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A ray of hope?

27/05/2013

I just heard the news.

The NSW Police Integrity Commission (PIC) has recommended the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), Lloyd Babb, consider charges against some of the police involved in the killing of Roberto Curti.

In March last year Mr Curti, unarmed, naked and threatening no-one, was chased by eleven NSW cops, stunned, handcuffed, capsicum sprayed, bashed with a baton, tasered fourteen times and crushed under “half a tonne of police”.

He died within minutes.

Even the normally police-cuddly NSW Coroner described their actions as thuggish and their testimony at her inquest as abhorrent, self-serving and self-contradicting lies.

The NSW Coroner usually does not question even the most preposterous perjury of police but it seems these guys tried to take the piss a bit too far.

Ms Jerram referred the case to the PIC, recommending disciplinary charges for the gang of uniformed killers.

In February the NSW Ombudsman, Bruce Barbour, did his bit to avoid upsetting the status quo when he handed down a review of the internal police investigation into the homicidal behaviour of the cops who chased Curti.

Mr Barbour had his usual whinge about the quality of evidence collecting when police investigate police and recommended a few cosmetic changes to police critical incident guidelines while saying nothing about the actual integrity of the process. After criticising the investigation team for drawing no conclusions of its own, preferring to wait on the reports of the Taser Review Panel, the Coroner and the PIC, the Ombudsman then excused himself from any further involvement in the matter due to the Coroner’s referral to the PIC.

A few months earlier Bruce had handed down his second report on the police use of tasers, during which he continued to treat claims that tasers can kill as ‘controversial’. That time he had averted his eyes from Curti’s death because of the upcoming coronial inquest.

He probably expected the Coroner to exonerate the police as she had done about a year earlier when she refused to find that Mr Ba Thinh Le had died as the result of the tasering that immediately preceded his ‘death from undetermined causes’. That time Mary Jerram found  all police involved had acted ‘appropriately’.

To the surprise of many the PIC not only passed the hot potato on to the DPP, it added some heat of its own in the form of recommendations that he consider charges of perjury, assault and affray against the thugs who took Roberto Curti’s life.

It seems to be getting a bit difficult to simply bury him as usual without creating a stink.

Over to you Mr Babb.

There will be no murder or manslaughter charges of course.
This is Australia.
Police and prison officers here are never convicted of homicide while on duty.
Never, ever.
In the history of Federation.

But they’re never convicted of perjury, assault or affray when they kill someone either.
And these charges are mild enough that they might actually stick, without the DPP or judiciary stepping in to sabotage the case, as they inevitably do with homicide charges.

In August 2001, 22 year old Woollomooloo man Edison Berrio was sitting behind the wheel of his stopped car, unarmed and cooperative when he was shot point blank through the head by Constable Rueben Sakey, who was charged with his murder.

NSW police had only just adopted the light-triggered Glock semi-automatic and Constable Sakey had recently been on stress leave so Magistrate Brian Lulham found that it was all an accident.

Not manslaughter. Not negligent homicide.
Just bad luck.

Needless to say, members of the Woollomooloo community who trashed the courtroom that day were convicted of quite serious offences. Some were threatened with death by the cops who arrested and bashed them.

I don’t think I’ve seen the system break down this much since DPP Nicholas Cowdery no billed charges against Constables Anthony DiLorenzo and Rodney Podesta after they so publicly gunned down Roni Levi.
Then they got done for drugs in the whitegoods and … well I dunno … but at least they stopped being cops.
That’s sending a strong message to those who’d use their badge as an excuse to needlessly shoot a disturbed young man in front of hundreds of horrified onlookers.
Just don’t do drugs“.

“Perjury, assault or affray” are obvious invitation to the NSW judiciary to ‘compromise’ on affray for the most obnoxious thugs among Roberto Curti’s killers. But I have a feeling they might scapegoat the most brutal of the attackers, Probationary Constable Barling, with an assault conviction. There is even a slender chance that Inspector Gregory Cooper will be convicted of serious perjury over the pack of lies he told the Coroner.

It is unlikely any of the men who killed Roberto Curti will ever go to prison over it. But they will probably have to turn in their tasers for good. After careers of routine perjury punctuated with bouts of brutal savagery they will probably be put on bonds due to their previously exemplary records and turned out to pasture in security agencies. If any end up in a prison they’ll still be wearing blue and swinging a baton.

If they are convicted of even minor charges it will represent a watershed in deaths in custody in Australia.
For the very first time cops would face direct legal sanctions for ending the life of someone they are sworn to protect.
Consequences!

Could the PIC finally be moving to institute cultural change in the country’s biggest and most homicidal gang?
Might other cops start thinking twice before they pull the trigger, swing the baton or start a high speed chase through the suburbs?
Could this mean the end of impunity for killer cops?

Maybe. Just maybe.

Alright. I know.
I’ve had my hopes dashed so many times before.

But this time they seem so modest.

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From → cops, hurts, racism, rant

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