Residents in far west New South Wales are calling for a more consistent use of police body cameras following reports from witnesses about the way officers allegedly responded to a teenager who was self-harming.
Two male Broken Hill police officers restrained a 16-year-old girl to prevent her from self-harming
The officers released their hold of the girl and one officer allegedly pulled her forcefully to the ground when they saw her moving back towards the house
The girl’s mother and aunt are calling for mandatory use of police body cameras as a result of the alleged incident
Last month, Donna Sullivan was at her home in Broken Hill’s predominately Indigenous Creedon Street neighbourhood when she found her 16-year-old niece self-harming.
After failing to convince her to stop, Ms Sullivan rang the police.
She said two male officers arrived at the house where they restrained the girl and tried to force a self-harming implement from her hand.
Ms Sullivan said her niece dropped the implement and the police officers released her in the front yard.
Her niece then turned around to take a step back towards the house.
“As she was walking away … the police officer ran from where he let her go … and slung her off the second step,” Ms Sullivan said.
She described the move as a quick grab and pull at her niece’s shoulder, which forced her backwards onto the ground.
The girl was then taken to hospital and was not seriously hurt either by her own actions or the fall, but it left her with a sore back.
The ABC has seen video footage of the aftermath of the incident which shows that neither officer was wearing a body-worn video camera.
Use of the cameras is at an officer’s discretion, but NSW Police guidelines advise officers switch it on “when exercising a policing power”, “during conversation with members of the public which may relate to an incident”, and while “performing a policing function”, among other scenarios.
More than a dozen witnesses
Several witnesses have confirmed to the ABC the account of Ms Sullivan, who said there were between 15 and 20 other residents who saw what happened.
“Everyone was yelling at them [the officers]. They couldn’t stand the tension,” Ms Sullivan said.