Police Association welcomes court's not guilty ruling
The Police Association of NSW has welcomed the decision to dismiss an assault charge against a Northern Rivers police officer.
Senior Constable Michial Luke Greenhalgh, 39, was today found not guilty of common assault.
The charge had arisen from the detention of a naked, drug-affected teen in the early hours of January 11, 2018.
"The closing submission by defence barrister Brent Haverfield struck at the very heart of a matter like this, where police are called on to respond to volatile and unpredictable circumstances," PANSW president Tony King said.
"In the early morning hours of 11 January 2018, Senior Constable Michial Greenhalgh was with colleagues who were called to respond to a young man who was behaving erratically in order to bring peace to a laneway in Byron Bay.
"The evidence of paramedics that the youth was likely still suffering from a drug-induced psychosis even after being sedated in an ambulance is unfortunately not an uncommon scenario when police are called on to protect the community and to keep affected individuals safe as well.
"As Mr Haverfield said in his closing submission today this was a clear case of the police being called on to 'deal with what was presented to them'.
"Mr Haverfield rightly defended Senior Constable's actions in striking the young man with a baton by stating that 'he never lost control … he always knew what he was trying to do and what he was trying to achieve' to make the situation safe.
"He deemed his actions were necessary under circumstances that only the police are called on to confront and deal with."
PANSW representatives were constantly supporting Sen-Constable Greenhalgh, along with his wife, throughout the six days of the hearing, first held last November and finalised this week.
Mr King said he agreed with the defence submission that earlier Law Enforcement Conduct Commission proceedings "contaminated" witness recollections.
He said the court case had been harrowing for Sen-Constable Greenhalgh.
"A failed and flawed prosecution like this should bring the actions of the LECC and its understanding of the everyday demands of policing into question," Mr King said.