An Aboriginal Man Says He Was The Victim Of Horrific Police Brutality
"I’m black, they don’t like blackfellas."
An Aboriginal man claims he was the victim of a brutal police bashing in Queensland that left him with horrific injuries and ongoing mental anguish.
In October 2013, Aboriginal man Leon Petrou, 29, was tasered, beaten and capsicum sprayed by two Queensland police officers.
Petrou says all he had done was help the police by calming down a man who was acting aggressively toward them.
“I asked the police officers if I could have a chat to him and they said, 'yeah come up,' so I went up there and chatted to him. The guy settled down," Petrou told the Brisbane Indigenous Media Association's Let's Talk Police Brutality program earlier this week.
Petrou claims he then shook hands with one of the officers before walking away. Shortly after he was told to "step back here".
“I was freaking out watching him [the officer] reach for his taser. I thought it was a gun for a sec until he actually brought it up to his head and he was aiming it in my eyes, the taser laser beam in my eyes."
"I put my arms up to block the light and the shot, as a normal person would [with] your body under threat, and then he just put the taser down to my chest and shot me," Petrou said.
"I had to kneel down because the pain was so intense and when I actually knelt down the officers came from behind me and belted into me."
"[An officer] punched my tooth into my top lip... The other fella came over and he bent down, got the pepper spray and sprayed me right in my face, and ... a lightbulb [went off] in my head: 'I’m black, they don’t like blackfellas'."
Mobile phone footage filmed by a laughing onlooker that was played in court shows two male police officers hunched over Petrou on the ground and repeatedly punching him while a female officer watches on shining a flashlight on him.
Petrou estimates that at least 50 people were watching, "none of them yelled to the police [to] stop it. They just thought it was fun and games, 'here’s another black man getting assaulted by police he must have don’t something wrong'."
A spokesperson for the Queensland Police told BuzzFeed News that an internal investigation into the behaviour of the officers has been finalised and passed on to an ethics unit.
"The original complaint was assessed by the Crime and Corruption Commission and forwarded to the Queensland Police Service for investigation."
"An internal investigation has been completed and is currently being overviewed by the Ethical Standards Command (ESC)."
"As the matter is still classed as an open investigation, the ESC is not able to provide further comment."
Petrou, a single father and a radio host who says he had never been in trouble with the law aside from unpaid parking fines, was arrested on seven charges after the incident including obstructing police, serious assault and bodily harm.
"One of the officers that punched me, he got a hairline fracture to his wrist and he reckons that I done that to him. He actually did it himself while punching me in the head."
Last year, Petrou was found not guilty on all counts.
Three years after the assault, Petrou says he "gets terrible anxiety" and plans to take legal action against the officers later this year.
"Now the spotlight will be on them this time and I hope something gets done."