An internal investigation by South Australian Police into a violent arrest caught on camera in Port Adelaide last month has not only cleared the officers involved of any wrongdoing but reinstated charges against the man.
In a detailed statement given to media this afternoon, SAPOL commissioner Grant Stevens said that a Chief SuperIntendant oversaw the investigation which cleared the officers.
“[The Office for Public Integrity] has reviewed the final reports and have determined not to re-assess or give SAPOL any directions in relation to the handling of the report,” Stevens said.
“The effect of this is that the independent oversight of the inquiry has supported the process and outcome.
“As a result, there will be no disciplinary action taken against the officers involved in the arrest of the man.”
Having reviewed body-cam footage of the arrest, police now alleged Noel Henry, 28, attempted to break away during a search and then attempted to struggle against police while reaching for an officer’s OC spray.
Stevens said they will be charging Mr Henry for hindering police, resisting police and property damage. Mr Henry will appear before the Port Adelaide Magistrates Court in October.
Chief Executive Officer at the Aboriginal Legal Rights Movement (ALRM), Cheryl Axleby, described the outcome as “unsurprising” and said that SAPOL were trying to make an example out of Mr Henry.
“They have released this late on a Friday so they hope it doesn’t get publicity,” Axleby said.
“It’s just totally, not surprising. Again, you can understand why our community members can’t be bothered when putting in complaints against police.
“We’re very frustrated that we have an outcome where we have a man clearly subject to racial profiling – which is how our mob is stopped on the street -- while police attempting to pursue an unrelated family violence incident, and [then] proceeded to arrest him.
“There’s been no one held accountable for that, and that’s being seen as reasonable force being used and raises the issue of the safety of our people when they’re being detained by police.
“This is what happens when we have police investigating police.”
The incident occurred on 16 June with video footage shared to social media showing Mr Henry being arrested minutes after he had left a friend’s house in Kilburn, South Australia.
The police who were present had attended the location on an unrelated matter but the video shows multiple officers pressing Mr Henry’s head into the concrete slab of a fence and punching him several times while he was on the ground.
It is alleged that it was during this struggle that Mr Henry reached for defensive spray.
After being arrested, Mr Henry was taken into custody overnight – where he was not allowed to see field workers from the Aboriginal Legal Rights Movement (ALRM) or given medical attention – before being released the next day from Port Adelaide Police station by the back door.
Though SAPOL have made details of the internal investigation public, Commissioner Stevens said he had decided against releasing the body-camera footage from the officers as the matter is now before court.