Man with lived experience of mental distress in coma after brutal arrest

We are appalled by reports that a 32-year old father of three is in an induced coma after he was struck by a police vehicle and kicked in the head, as six police officers pinned him to the ground whilst arresting him.

This man had been waiting for a mental health bed at the Northern Hospital and decided to leave after waiting more than a day in emergency. Hospital staff called police to bring him back when this violent and unwarranted arrest unfolded.

The man’s father said he was devastated by the incident, as his son suffered from bipolar disorder, and that these police officers “Could’ve killed him.” You can read the full story on 9 news here.

Police brutality in any circumstance is unacceptable. In this instance, the brutality was used against a man who was unwell and had been attempting to seek treatment. The police have a duty to protect people in our society, not harm them, and this is especially the case in relation to those who are most vulnerable.

This is yet another example of how police use their position of power to abuse people with lived experience of mental or emotional distress – people already inhumanely marginalised in society.

VMIAC calls upon Victoria Police to immediately stand down the officers responsible for this conduct. Police should be trained to deal with incidents such as this with compassion and professionalism, rather than simply resorting to violence. Police need to be dealt with within the law. Any officer who does not recognise the importance of their duty to protect the community, particularly those who blatantly disregard this duty, must be held accountable. The human rights of people who suffer from mental distress must be upheld. Action must be taken at a government level to prevent this abuse of power being used against society’s most vulnerable.

We have raised our concerns with the Independent Broad-based Anti-Corruption Commission and the Minister for Mental Health, and in doing so, demand immediate action that these officers are brought to justice; and we implore you to do the same.

Click here to make a complaint to IBAC.

If you are distressed by this incident, please do not hesitate to get in touch on 03 9380 3900, or to call our CHECK-IN service on 1800 845 009.

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