The West Australian police officer who was caught on video ramming a 17-year-old Aboriginal boy with a police car in the Perth suburb of Thornlie last year was on Monday found guilty of dangerous driving.
Senior Sergeant Richard Stephen Moore pleaded not guilty to the charge and throughout the trial maintained that he had done nothing wrong during the 2018 incident which saw him hit Noongar teenager William Farmer with an unmarked police vehicle at low speed.
However, Magistrate Tom Hall found Mr Moore guilty and fined him $2500.
In his decision, Magistrate Hall said Mr Moore was “a good police officer” but likened the incident to an episode of the Benny Hill Show, "but in slow motion" that could have killed Mr Farmer.
On May 6 2018, Mr Moore and his partner attended a scene involving a suspicious person in the eastern Perth suburb of Thornlie. They had been informed that somebody had been going to different houses in the area asking for cigarettes.
Initially, the officers didn’t locate a suspect but as they were leaving the suburb they ran into Mr Farmer, who allegedly fit the description.
When Mr Moore approached Mr Farmer the teenager ran.
The officers eventually caught up with Mr Farmer and attempted to arrest him but were only able to put one handcuff on him before Mr Farmer was able to get away again.
Mr Moore’s police partner then followed the teenager on foot and Mr Moore continued his pursuit in the vehicle at a slow speed.
During the trial, Mr Moore’s defence had suggested that Mr Farmer was going to try and carjack a nearby car, and therefore Mr Moore turned his car to stop Mr Farmer from going down the street towards the vehicle.
The magistrate did not find this allegation to be true and instead found that Mr Farmer was looking over to see the police vehicle.
“It was a car verse person situation," Mr hall said. "Obviously the car is gonna win."
Mr Hall fined Mr Moore $2,500 and ordered that he pay court costs of more than $7,000.
Mr Moore was granted a spent conviction order, a sentence that means he will not have a criminal record and does not have to disclose the conviction to anyone.
A WA Police spokeswoman said Mr Moore had been stood aside from duties and an internal disciplinary process was ongoing.
Mr Moore’s defence lawyer described his client’s actions as an “error of judgement”.
Mr Farmer was not in court today, but his mother Edwina Farmer told reporters outside court that her son is now scared of the police.
“He lives in fear every day since that took place and I’m glad it’s all over,” she said.
During today’s hearing, the court also heard a number of allegations by the police had no findings, including allegations that the young teenager had attempted to carjack people and also that he had a weapon.
The Magistrate had also found that it had been “inappropriate” for an email that included detailed notes of his partner’s statement was sent to Mr Moore before he had given his evidence in an internal police investigation.