The woman who captured the viral video of an Aboriginal man being struck by police and allegedly pepper sprayed in a shocking arrest in South Australia has claimed the attacks are nothing knew and that she was lucky to capture the video at the right time.
South Australia Police has launched an internal investigation after an officer was filmed appearing to repeatedly punch 28-year-old Noel Henry while others pin him to the ground and against a fence during an arrest on Monday night.
Video of the arrest in the Adelaide suburb of Kilburn went viral after being posted to social media.
It shows three officers attempting to detain the man as a woman can be heard screaming, “Get off his head”.
Mr Henry was charged with hindering police, resisting police and property damage. He spent the night at Port Adelaide police station but was released Tuesday morning with reported injuries to his head, arms and legs.
The officers involved are now on administrative duties and facing investigation, but Emma Pereira, who shot the footage, said the altercation was nothing new.
In a Facebook post attached to the video, Ms Pereira said “this is how ‘black lives matter’”, referencing the global protests that were sparked after the death of black man George Floyd.
She told the ABC she thought the man may have been targeted by police.
“They always come here to be honest, they were probably driving by and saw Noel riding his bike. He was going to come and join us
“This is not the first time … this has just been filmed at the right time,” Ms Pereira said.
“It’s happened before and no-one’s got it on film. I hope Noel actually pursues what has happened yesterday night.”
“The police’s behaviour is very aggressive, very unnecessary and in fact is exacerbating the poor relationship that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples already have alongside black and other indigenous people and people of colour with police,” she said.
“These relationships have never been formed on solid foundations of trust … what we’re seeing as a response from the community is that we’ve had enough, they can’t get away with this,” she said.
“They don’t feel safe, they don’t feel like they protect us and the videos last night [are] a result of this — it just happened to be recorded.”
News.com.au has contacted Ms Pereira for comment.
Aboriginal rights activist and social worker Latoya Rule told reporters police had taken Mr Henry through the back door of the station without any medical assistance, and said the police were “smiling” and seemed as if “they had nothing to say about their behaviour”.
“You won’t be seeing the cuts on his face, the cuts on his arms or the cuts on his legs, and you won’t be seeing the state he was in unfortunately because the police have taken him”.
WHAT THE COPS SAY
In a statement Monday afternoon, SA Police said the officers were responding to an “alleged high-risk domestic violence matter where a woman was taken to hospital and the offender was not known at the time”.
As they approached the house at about 8.15pm, “they saw a man leaving the area of the house on a bicycle”.
“Police at this time advised the man that they had suspicions concerning him being in possession of illicit drugs. He was asked to place his hands on his head while a search of his person was undertaken,” the statement said.
“The man originally was compliant and after a short time he began to refuse. Police attempted to arrest the man who resisted and a struggle ensued. Police and the man went to the ground as police attempted to restrain and handcuff him.”
Police say one of the officer’s body cameras was grabbed during the struggle and only parts of it have been recovered.
They say they were then “confronted by a number of other nearby residents who became agitated”.
“Police called for urgent assistance. Defensive spray was deployed and other police arrived,” the statement said.
“There is video footage of the incident that has been published on social media. The video shows a rear view of a police officer appearing to strike the man on the ground. An internal investigation has commenced and will be conducted in strict accordance with the statutory provisions outlined in the Police Complaints and Discipline Act 2016.”
SA Police say the investigation will be led by a “senior police officer” and that the matter will be “taken very seriously”.
The 28-year-old Kilburn man in the video was initially arrested and charged with hindering police, resisting police and property damage.
He has been released from custody while the incident is investigated further.
Police say both the man and one of the officers received “minor injuries”.
— with Frank Chung