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Exclusive: Police officer guilty of assaulting Indigenous teenager still employed by NSW police

Dechlan Brennan -

A New South Wales constable who was found guilty of assaulting an Indigenous teenager in May is still employed by the NSW police.

National Indigenous Times can confirm Senior Constable Ryan Joseph Barlow, who was sentenced in December to an 18-month community correction order with supervision and required to undertake 125 hours of community service work, is still employed by the NSW police, despite being found guilty in May 2023.

Barlow, 30, was filmed in 2020 holding the Aboriginal teen's arms behind his back and using a 'leg sweep' motion to slam him to the ground after the victim said "I'll crack you across the jaw, bro" from four metres away when Barlow and two other officers approached the boy and his friends in Surry Hills at around 5pm.

Barlow immediately moved towards the boy, telling him to turn around and place his hands behind his back. The boy replied, "What the f**k?" but complied.

Over the next six seconds, Barlow deployed the controversial leg sweep manoeuvre to bring down the child, who never moved towards the officer. The move is not taught by NSW Police.

The court was told the teen was given just over three seconds to comply with Barlow's orders before being brought to the ground, a move that caused the child to suffer cuts, a chipped tooth, an injured mouth as well as pain to his right knee and shoulder, face, jaw and neck.

Barlow was criticised after arguing the teenager tried to kick out at him, with magistrate Rami Attia stating his claims were "simply not accurate."

Emma Hearne, Associate Legal Director of the National Justice Project, who represented the boy assaulted by the officer, noted that "far too often, police misconduct goes unpunished". The victim's mother said at Barlow's sentencing: "The issues of police brutality is a long-term systemic problem."

NSW police have been heavily criticised for a series of incidents involving Aboriginal people, including not observing Indigenous children's right to silence, a lack of accountability, and the failure to consistently turn on body-worn cameras.

Despite the over-incarceration and disproportionate uses of force faced by Indigenous people in NSW, Premier Chris Minns has defended the police force, arguing they are not to blame. This despite NSW Police Commissioner Karen Webb saying Closing the Gap targets would lead to "competing duties" for police, described as an "outrageous statement" by one human rights lawyer.

This week also sees the 20th anniversary of 17-year-old Kamilaroi boy TJ Hickey, who died while being chased by two police paddy wagons in 2004 during the Redfern riots.

National Indigenous Times has contacted the NSW police minister for comment.

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