Police in Australia used excessive force in stopping a man riding a bike without a cycle helmet, a court has found after a case against the rider, who faced charges including assaulting a police officer, was dropped.
John Beard had been drinking in the Southport RSL Club on Queensland’s Gold Coast on Anzac Day this year when he decided to ride his bike down its front steps in what his lawyer Campbell MacCallum said was a case of joking around.
His lack of a cycle helmet however attracted the attention of police officers who went after him and forced him to the ground, reports the Gold Coast Bulletin.
Besides failing to wear a bicycle helmet, Mr Beard was also charged with offences including assaulting or obstruction of a police officer and serious assault of a police officer causing bodily harm.
Yesterday however the case against him collapsed at Southport Magistrates’ Court after it emerged that the arresting officer, Senior Constable Nathan Irwin, is himself being investigated and could face disciplinary proceedings.
Police had said that Mr Beard threw a punch at an officer, hitting him in the head, but CCTV footage, which can be watched on the Gold Coast Bulletin website, shows police running after the cyclist and forcing him to the ground.
But magistrates threw the case out and orderered Queensland Police Service to compensate Mr Beard A$2,000 for court costs, and his lawyer says he is seeking further compensation as a result of shoulder and other injuries as well as emotional distress.
“He’s quite upset about going into public, given that he was only just riding a bicycle at the time and was tackled off the bicycle for the mere fact that he did not have a helmet on,” Mr MacCallum commented.
“[The CCTV is] a little bit disturbing," he said. "It seems Mr Beard was having a bit of a joke – he’d had a few drinks on Anzac day, he rode his bike just down the footpath a distance and didn’t have a helmet on.
“Immediately upon seeing the police, he did the right thing, stopped what he was doing, rode his bike a short distance and then he seems to have been tackled fairly aggressively to the ground and dragged around the neck by two police officers.”
He added that his client had also referred the case to the Crime & Corruption Commission.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.