Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Police try to cover up assault on woman doctor after they beat her up



A Melbourne doctor claims police threw her to the ground and punched her in the head after she tried to help a barely conscious and bleeding man who was surrounded by officers.



The Professional Standards Command is investigating the alleged assault of Kim Proudlove, who says she was punched and thrown by police when trying to help an injured man in Melbourne's CBD.

The doctor says police then attempted to cover up the assault.

Kim Proudlove, a slightly built stepmother of three who specialises in helping people with brain injuries, has spoken publicly for the first time about her encounter with police in Melbourne's CBD in April last year.

It comes after a joint investigation by The Age and ABC's 7.30 program revealed two other cases of alleged police brutality.


The first involved the wrongful arrest of an Aboriginal teenager, who claims he was handcuffed, thrown into a wooden fence and capsicum sprayed. The teenager says a policeman used water from a dog bowl to wash the capsicum spray from his face.

The second involved a policeman who kept his job and rank after slapping a shirtless, drunk disability pensioner in the head and hurling him to the ground in Geelong police station.

Dr Proudlove does not fit the profile of the vulnerable Victorians who are more likely to report a violent run-in with police.

 Dr Kim Proudlove went to help an injured man in Flinders Lane. But she claims police turned on her.Credit:Paul Jeffers

She is an experienced doctor with a track record of helping people in need, including those badly injured in traffic accidents.

Her confrontation with police began just after 9pm on April 22 in Flinders Lane when she noticed a man lying in the fetal position in a doorway, bleeding and barely conscious.

She says she approached the police officers standing around the injured man and introduced herself as a doctor able to provide aid.

“I was very concerned by the large pool of fresh blood, and that no one was attending to him,” she said. She claims the police told her to go away, that an ambulance had been called and that the man’s injuries were self-inflicted.

"I told them regardless of it being self-inflicted, the bleeding should be stopped with basic first aid while waiting for an ambulance. He wasn’t moving and wasn’t talking."
 

Dr Proudlove said after she insisted the man needed help, police officers shoved her against a wall. She began filming the police on her mobile phone and says one of the officers then attacked her.


“There was an older policeman that came towards me, violently threw me to the ground, put my hands behind my back, and repeatedly punched me in the head,” she has alleged.

“I kept asking them to stop and told them that they were hurting me. I had a police officer put his weight into the back of my knee which also was very painful. They handcuffed me then picked me up and took me to a police van and put me in the back.”


Police confiscated her phone but returned it to her in the back of the van, where Dr Proudlove discovered that the video she had recorded had been deleted. She filmed a fresh video recording her version of events.

After officers dropped her home in a police van, Dr Proudlove's husband raced her to hospital.

“My right ear needed tissue glue to close the wounds, I had a swollen and bruised lip, I had a bump on my head, my knee was extremely sore causing me to limp and I had multiple other bruises and abrasions all over my body ... I was also in shock.”

Medical scans confirmed that Dr Proudlove’s knee was badly damaged and she had suffered a fracture to her leg and an anterior cruciate ligament rupture.

Dr Proudlove complained to police’s Professional Standards Command about her treatment within hours of her ordeal. After this, she was told she was under criminal investigation for resisting arrest and could face serious charges.

In December, police told Dr Proudlove she would not be prosecuted.
In a statement, a police spokeswoman said the case was the subject of "an active Professional Standards Command investigation".

"The senior constable and sergeant involved in the alleged incident have been transferred to other duties while the investigation is taking place. We are unable to provide any further information as the investigation is ongoing," she said.

Dr Proudlove’s ordeal occurred just 19 days after The Age exposed a major police brutality scandal.

In April 2018, The Age revealed CCTV vision showing police officers assaulting a Melbourne disability pensioner during a mental health welfare check.

That footage led to the charging of several officers along with widespread calls for reform of the police complaints system, later backed by a Victorian parliamentary committee. At the time, police denied that reform was needed. The state government - wary of blow back from the powerful police union - stalled on its own plans for an overhaul.

On Monday, The Age revealed that a Victorian policeman had retained his job and rank despite being caught on CCTV footage assaulting a disability pensioner.




Images from CCTV footage showing the assault on 62-year-old Phil Dickson.

The CCTV footage shows Sergeant Michael Cooke repeatedly slap 62-year-old Phil Dickson in the back of the head and then throw him to the ground at Geelong police station in January 2013.

Mr Dickson, who did nothing to justify the use of force, was knocked unconscious and left bleeding. He was hospitalised after the attack.

The disability pensioner was arrested after police found him sitting in a parked car, four times over the legal blood-alcohol limit for driving. His drinking episode was prompted by his separation from his wife and, after his arrest and charging, Mr Dickson pleaded guilty to drink-driving and resisting arrest.



Sergeant Cooke pleaded guilty in the Geelong Magistrates Court to assaulting Mr Dickson.

The police sergeant was initially facing a more serious criminal charge of recklessly causing injury, but struck a plea deal with prosecutors to have the charge reduced in return for a guilty plea with no conviction.

After pleading guilty, Sergeant Cooke returned to the force from his paid suspension and faced an internal police disciplinary hearing in 2015.

The disciplinary hearing panel reviewed the damning CCTV footage of the assault, but decided against giving Sergeant Cooke a serious penalty. Instead, the panel placed him on a good behaviour order.

He remained a police officer until 2018, when he resigned.



Also among the latest disturbing cases is that of Tommy Lovett.

Mr Lovett was a skinny, baby-faced 18-year-old, riding a scooter to his grandmother’s home, when he was wrongly arrested in April 2016.

Police had earlier issued a description over the radio for a 40-year-old Aboriginal man with a goatee, who was wanted for stealing a vehicle and ramming it into a police car.

Mr Lovett was also dark skinned, but he had no goatee and had committed no crime.

The Age has uncovered police statements and diary notes that support Mr Lovett’s claim that he was hurled into a fence and assaulted while handcuffed.

But by the time officers were directed to continue the search for the actual suspect, Mr Lovett’s body was bruised, grazed and bleeding. A neighbour would later recall hearing him quietly sobbing on the footpath.

Police vehemently denied the claims and an internal investigation found nothing wrong with Mr Lovett’s arrest.

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