• An officer used a 'leg sweep' on Aboriginal man Brett Armstrong during a traffic stop in Sydney in 2016. (AAP)Source: AAP
In 2016, Brett Armstrong was thrown heavily to the ground by an officer in Sydney. He now suffers chronic pain and will need significant medical supervision for the rest of his life.
By
AAP

Source:
AAP
12 Aug 2021 - 2:04 PM  UPDATED 12 Aug 2021 - 2:06 PM

TRIGGER WARNING: This article contains distressing content.

An Aboriginal man who says he was seriously injured when a jujitsu-trained police officer threw him to the ground has settled his lawsuit against the State of NSW.

Brett Armstrong was claiming damages for injuries including incomplete quadriplegia, and lower limb spasticity with impaired balance and gait over the March 2016 Sydney incident.

Justice David Davies, who began hearing the expedited case in the Supreme Court on Monday, was told on Thursday the matter had settled on confidential terms.

After a notice of discontinuance was filed, the judge congratulated the parties noting it was "a very difficult matter to resolve".

Mr Armstrong said his injuries were the result of "assault and/or battery and/or negligent battery by the State".

NSW had disputed liability, also arguing that a critical issue was whether the injuries were related to the incident or a series of previous injuries, including a car crash.

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After leaving a veterinary clinic where four puppies were vaccinated, Mr Armstrong had been a passenger in a car stopped by police at Horningsea Park.

According to the statement of claim, after returning a negative random breath test, the driver and Mr Armstrong were told police were going to search them and the vehicle and they needed to get out.

Mr Armstrong recorded the interaction on his phone, but was allegedly told by Senior Constable Samuel Kanard to put it down.

He got out of the car, still holding and recording on his iPhone, turned around and placed both hands above his head as directed by the officer, the claim said.

"There is no dispute the plaintiff was cooperating with police.

"Without warning, the plaintiff was thrown to the ground by Senior Constable Kanard hitting the ground heavily near the gutter."

The officer was said to have believed the iPhone was an "unidentified object" in the plaintiff's hand, and according to him, he used a "leg sweep".

The officer was said to have been an expert in jujitsu.

In July, Justice Michael Walton ordered the case be expedited after fears Mr Armstrong's condition was deteriorating.

"The plaintiff is suffering significant hardship, not of his own making, and his psychological state is precarious," he said.

As well as incomplete quadriplegia and lower limb spasticity, his injuries were said to include cervical spinal injury, trauma and serious pain.

"He is receiving treatment from the public health, and due to his impecunious state, is prevented from specialist private care and treatment on needs basis," his lawyers told Justice Walton.

A medical expert concluded he requires significant and careful medical supervision for the rest of his life.

Other reports referred to his having chronic post-traumatic stress disorder, major depressive disorder and suicidal ideation.

"The plaintiff submitted that delay, where the matter is otherwise ready, may jeopardise the plaintiff's resolve, among other factors, to see the matter through to finality and not 'fall between the cracks'."

If you need support after reading this story please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14, beyond blue on 1300 22 4636 or reach out to your local Aboriginal Medical Service.

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