Shocking police act needs independent probe

A human rights lawyer representing an 18-year-old Noongar man struck by a police car in Perth said he would have preferred the matter to have been independently investigated.

William Farmer was hit by the car on Sunday May 6 on a street in Thornlie, an outer suburb in Perth’s south-east, in an incident that has made international headlines.

Sydney-based George Newhouse, a founder of the not-for-profit legal service National Justice Project, said an independent inquiry into the case by a body such as the WA Corruption and Crime Commission would have been preferable over a police investigation.

But he said they would await the outcome of the police report before deciding what to do next.

Mr Newhouse said police investigating police “doesn’t always work”.

“But I can tell you that the WA police seem to be taking this seriously and we will await the outcome of their investigation before deciding what needs to happen next,” he said.

The WA Police Force stood down a senior sergeant from operational duties after video footage of the incident, filmed by witnesses, was posted on Facebook and aired by television stations.

Farmer still ‘seriously hurt’

The footage shows Mr Farmer being hit by the police car, falling to the ground and appearing to have a seizure before being handcuffed.

Mr Newhouse said Mr Farmer was still “not well”.

“He has not got over his injuries,” he said.

“He’s been seriously hurt and is in the process of seeing doctors.”

Mr Newhouse said the National Justice Project was running its own investigation into the case.

“It’s a serious issue and we’re taking it very seriously,” he said.

“We will be using all means available to us to obtain justice for the family.

“The family are incredibly concerned about this situation, as am I, and I expect we will be taking further action and we’ll know in about a month’s time what form it will take.”

A WA Police Force spokesman told NIT there was no time limit on their investigation.

But he said the outcome of the inquiry would be made public.

The senior sergeant had been stood down from operational duties pending the outcome of the investigation, he said.

The police had reportedly been in the area responding to a complaint of suspicious activity.

Both The New York Times and the Mirror in the UK have published damning reports about the incident.

Amateur footage of the incident can be seen here.

Wendy Caccetta

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