A video of a young man's ordeal with NSW Police officers at the Sydney Mardi Gras on Saturday night is going off all over the web right now. The video — which is particularly tough viewing — shows officers brutally handling the young man who has today been reportedly charged with assaulting police and abusive lanugage. NSW Police, however, have come out to defend themselves, saying that they're the victims of "trial by social media".
The video shows an 18-year old man being arrested at the Sydney Mardi Gras on Saturday night by aggressive police officers who, at one point, sickeningly slam the handcuffed young man to the ground, despite the fact that the suspect hadn't showed any physical resistance previously in the recorded footage. If you are about to watch the video, be advised that the footage could disturb some viewers.
During the video, six officers surround the young man as the crowd hurls abuse at officers. Several officers ask the camera operator on a few separate occasions to cease recording. For what it's worth, it is legal to film Police going about their operations in New South Wales, so don't let an officer tell you it isn't no matter what they're being caught doing.
The video now has hundreds of votes on Reddit, hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube and its spread over the web in the last 12 hours could be likened to a wildfire.
Deputy Commissioner of the New South Wales Police Service Mark Murdoch told the media today at a press conference that the behaviour of police who asked citizens to stop filming that they demonstrated naivety in their comments.
"We support the right of the community to film anyone in a public space and we do so ourselves. Our police need to be mature enough to know that everyone has a mobile phone with a camera facility and they will use that. We thought at the senior level it had been communicated loud and clear but we have more work to be done there," he said.
The Deputy Commissioner had nothing to say about the conduct of the officers, adding only that these incidents are now subject to both internal and criminal investigations.
Despite what we've seen in the footage overnight, the head of the NSW Police Association, Mark Weber, said that the public shouldn't demonise police before investigations have been concluded:
"We've only seen a small snippet in regards to the incident and we need to have a proper investigation before a trial by social media," he told the SMH.
Right now, the police are calling for anyone with additional mobile phone footage of two incidents on Oxford Street — one at 10pm and one at 11:30pm — to come forward to CrimeStoppers with that footage.
Update: you can now watch the Police media conference online.