SENIOR police say no action will be taken against any of a group of Newcastle police officers who were filmed hitting and kicking a cyclist they arrested in Hunter Street on Saturday night.
The circumstances of the arrest shocked a number of witnesses to the incident, who filmed it and passed the footage to the Newcastle Herald.
"Even after learning what they say they arrested him for, it doesn't justify what they did to him," one witness said.
Police said in a statement to the Herald yesterday that the 27-year-old man had been seen on his bike at high speed in Merewether Street against the flow of traffic.
They caught up with him at the intersection of Hunter Street and Worth Place but when they tried to speak with him he walked across the rail corridor in front of an approaching tram, which "came to a sudden stop to avoid a collision".
The officers were speaking with him when he allegedly "became aggressive and a violent struggle ensued".
Police alleged he continued to resist arrest despite being pepper sprayed, and backup was called.
He was eventually subdued and taken to Newcastle Police Station and charged with resisting arrest, crossing a level crossing while a tram was approaching, not having a helmet and riding recklessly.
He was bailed to appear in Newcastle Local Court tomorrow week, Thursday, October 29.
The incident had been reviewed by senior officers, and the Herald was told no further action would be taken.
A second witness said assertions the man resisted did not tally with what they saw and heard.
"He didn't have a helmet on, that's right, but he kept saying 'I haven't done anything, I haven't done anything," the second witness said.
The video began just before 9.20pm, opposite where the light rail joins Hunter Street.
"There were two officers talking to him, they were asking him where his helmet was," one witness said.
"I don't think he said anything, then they asked him for identification and he said he didn't have any, that it wasn't illegal not to carry identification, and that he was 'a citizen of Newcastle'.
"He was saying: 'I've committed no crime. Am I under arrest?'
"And then it somehow escalated and one of the officers grabbed him and they got him down on the ground behind the big green NBN connection box, and that's when I got my phone out".
The four-minute film clearly shows the man being hit and kicked while he was near the ground and clinging to his bike.
It starts with the man on the ground behind the NBN box, seemingly clinging to his bike while two officers grapple with him.
Yelling can be heard and a couple walks hand in hand diagonally across the road near the police car, which is parked in the intersection.
Other pedestrians walk by from time to time.
The man is still on the ground 90 seconds later when a siren is heard and four officers run in and join the fray.
The six officers then grapple with him and at the two-minute mark one officer standing near his feet is seen to kick the man at least twice, after another officer is seen hitting down repeatedly on the man's hand, apparently trying to get him to let go of the bike.
More officers arrive near the three-minute mark, and the man is pulled to his feet shortly afterwards and led away, bowed over with his hands cuffed behind his back, out of sight of the camera.
One of the witnesses quoted earlier said he was shocked at the way the police behaved.
"No wonder people are scared of something like that happening to them," the witness said.
"That's a hell of a response for a bicycle traffic offender.
"Their statement to you says it was a 'high visibility operation' but the car that pulled him over was unmarked except when its hazard lights came on.
"The only highly visible thing I saw was what they did to the rider. It was very saddening."
The full NSW Police response to our questions
About 9pm on Saturday (17 October 2020), officers attached to the Northern Operational Support Group (Operation Utah) were patrolling Merewether Street, Newcastle, as part of a high-visibility operation, when they allegedly observed a bicycle being ridden at speed against the flow of traffic.
A short time later, police stopped and attempted to speak with the rider - a 27-year-old man - at the intersection of Hunter Street and Worth Place, before the man allegedly walked across the rail corridor in front of an approaching tram. The vehicle came to a sudden stop to avoid a collision.
Police spoke with the 27-year-old before he allegedly became aggressive and a violent struggle ensued.
Police deployed OC spray which was ineffective. The man continued to resist arrest, with officers requesting additional resources.
The man continued to resist before he was arrested and taken to Newcastle Police Station.
He was charged with resist officer in execution of duty, cross level crossing when approaching tram/train seen/heard, rider not wear approved bicycle helmet/fitted/fastened and ride bicycle recklessly.
He was granted conditional bail to appear at Newcastle Local Court on Thursday 29 October 2020.
The incident has been reviewed by senior officers, with the accused now before the courts.
Police continue to urge cyclists and pedestrians to observe all relevant road rules to avoid serious injury. NSW Police continue to work with Transport for NSW and Keolis Downer to ensure the safety of pedestrians and other road users when approaching and crossing light rail corridors.
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