• Vision of the incident will be instrumental in the case against the state, that appears to show police officers surrounding and striking the teen. (FB)Source: FB
An Aboriginal teenager from the state's north coast is seeking justice by suing the state of New South Wales over an alleged police assault last year.
Shahni Wellington

17 Jun 2020 - 10:57 PM  UPDATED 17 Jun 2020 - 10:57 PM

When vision surfaced last year of an Aboriginal teenager surrounded by three New South Wales police officers and being struck in the head by one of them, it made headlines across the country. 

Now the adolescent involved is suing the state for false imprisonment, battery and trespassing of goods.

The plaintiff, who was 17 at the time of the incident, has asked for his identity not to be disclosed.

In a statement of claims filed in the Lismore District Court, the incident is described as an "oppressive abuse of police powers," and that the police had targeted him due to him being "an Aboriginal boy who was alone."

Solicitor from Foott Law, Joe Fahey, has been appointed as legal counsel and he said seeking exemplary damages from the state is a last resort.

“None of the measures that are in place are making any differences, if there are any measures in place,” said Mr Fahey.

“So I think it's time that a stand has to be taken and the only way we can do it is to agitate it politically.” 

The vision appears to show the teenager walking home at night before three NSW police officers follow and then surround the boy, before one allegedly strikes him in the head.

It's an act described as "racist" and "abhorrent" in the claim filed. 

Following the incident, the statement of claims alleges that when trying to file an official complaint to the Casino Police Station, the plaintiff had the "door closed on him."

The legal team wants the process of securing financial damages to lead to a change in the way the government deals with policing and Indigenous people.

“What we hope to achieve is that someone in the court system, like a judge, stands up and says ‘this behaviour is disgraceful, it’s happened before but nothing seems to be done about it.’

“Why don't we give significant amount of exemplary damages so the state sits up and says, 'hang on a minute - it is going to keep going on and it's going to cost a lot more money', so we really need to change the way we think and change the way we do things,” Mr Fahey said. 

The allegations come amidst multiple cases of police misconduct, including an incident in Sydney where a 16-year-old teenager had his legs kicked from underneath him by a police officer, and an class action lawsuit against the New South Wales police for unlawful strip-searching. 

To Mr Fahey's knowledge, no officer has been sanctioned or charged over the Casino incident, and no apology has been given.

Mr Fahey said the family hope their actions can help protect other young Aboriginal people.

“His grandma and his aunty and his mum - they're all pretty upset about it all and hopefully it won't resolve into the fact that it's just another one of those things that keeps on going on,” he said.

"They're hopeful that the steps they're taking now will hopefully later to stop in the future."

The matter has been listed for a pre-trial conference on June 3.

Violent arrest of a young Aboriginal man by South Australian police caught on camera
UPDATE: South Australian Police have confirmed that video of the arrest of a 28-year-old Aboriginal man appears to show an officer striking the man while he was on the ground and say an internal investigation has commenced.