An anti-lockdown protester was allegedly “dangerously tackled” during an arrest, leaving him with facial injuries and PTSD, a court has heard.
Daniel Peterson-English joined demonstrators gathered in Melbourne’s CBD on September 22 last year amid widespread protests over Victoria’s lockdown laws.
In the early afternoon, he became separated from the bulk of the protest march and allegedly turned his attention towards police at Flinders Street Station.
He was arrested in viral footage shared on social media, which sparked condemnation from law experts.
The police officer allegedly responsible for the arrest, acting Sergeant Beau Barrett, 37, appeared before the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court this week.
Mr Peterson-English had allegedly spent more than an hour ‘taunting’ officers with anti-police rhetoric.
After the alleged incident, he was stood down pending an investigation, which resulted in charges of recklessly causing injury and unlawful assault being laid in January.
The court heard Mr Peterson-English had allegedly been “abusive and aggressive” towards officers at the station for more than an hour, circling and filming them while shouting “anti-police rhetoric”.
In footage played to the court, Mr Peterson-English can be heard calling police “Nazis”, “dogs”, “pigs” and using insults with swear words.
Various witnesses described him as allegedly “laughing like the joker”, “making noises like ‘The Exorcist’” and “barking like an animal”.
Several witnesses called to give evidence, including Katrina Climie, testified his behaviour was “unpredictable and erratic”.
Ms Climie, a protective services officer, said Mr Peterson-English appeared so aggressive, she pulled out pepper spray – something she’d only done three times over her eight years of service.
Acting Senior Sergeant Luke Billing said he watched the arrest unfold, describing how Mr Barrett allegedly used a “seat belt take-down”, which police are trained to use.
He said Mr Peterson-English slipped during the manoeuvre, and landed on his head.
Daniel Peterson-English was allegedly left with facial injuries during his arrest at Flinders Street Station on September 22 in 2021.
But Senior Sergeant Matthew Hargreaves, a Victoria Police expert from the Centre of Operational Safety who reviewed the footage, alleged Mr Barrett used a “sling tackle” during the arrest.
“We consider it to be dangerous, a process that should be avoided,” he said.
“The technique doesn’t demonstrate due care to minimise risk of injury.”
Lawyers acting for the accused man suggested Mr Peterson-English’s “erratic and aggressive” behaviour “justified” Mr Barrett’s concern for his fellow officers before the arrest.
“Anyone that had the cornucopia of info would be justified with viewing the complainant with concern,” Mr Barrett’s legal representative told the court.
“With the protest outside … the manpower diverted to deal with the complainant could have put other members at risk.”
After presiding over the three-day committal hearing, which heard from more than a dozen witnesses, magistrate Rob Starry deferred his decision on whether the allegations should proceed to trial.
He requested the prosecution and defence provide written submissions and adjourned the matter until February next year.
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