Police officer criticised for aiming gun at a driver

A 32-year-old man was stopped by a highway patrol officer after he allegedly drove down a side street to evade police doing breath tests.
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A 32-year-old man was stopped by a highway patrol officer after he allegedly drove down a side street to evade police doing breath tests. When the man pulled over, on a lane just inside the ACT border, police dash camera footage shows the officer running to the driver’s side window with his gun drawn.

The officer taps the pistol twice on the window, pulls the door open, and points the gun as the man’s face as he climbs out and raises his hands in the air. The man complies with a direction to lie face down on the road, and the officer puts the weapon back in its holster. As the man continues to lie on the ground, the officer knees him in the back, handcuffs him and hits him again on the back.

The actions of the highway patrol officer were heavily criticised by a magistrate on Friday who said she was ‘appalled’ by the policeman’s response.

Special Magistrate Margaret Hunter said it had been ‘clearly unnecessary’ for the officer to draw his gun and point it at the man’s face. However the senior constable involved told the court he was concerned about his own safety, to which the magistrate responded that he could have waited for backup.

The man’s lawyer, Adrian McKenna, argued that as well as an improper use of force, the breathalyser used by the officer was not registered under ACT law, like it was just across the border in NSW.

“The magistrate decided quite clearly the breath-scanning device was not an approved device,” Mr McKenna said. “As a consequence, she decided she didn’t have to make a formal finding as to whether the improper arrest justified the evidence obtained.”

The case comes just over a month after a Queensland police officer was filmed aiming his gun at a motorist pulled over for speeding, which raises the question:

Are police officers using their guns more often for smaller things these days?

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