A New South Wales highway patrol officer was found guilty on Tuesday of assaulting a drug-affected Aboriginal teenager by putting his foot on the back of his head.
The Parramatta Advertiser reports that Magistrate David Price found Constable Paul Medulla could not invoke reasonable use of force or self defence when he put his foot on the back of the child's head on August 14, 2022.
The boy had just been arrested after an almost two-hour pursuit in Seven Hills when police allege he had stolen a car while he under the influence of ice.
The bodyworn camera of another officer attending the scene captured the moment Medulla accused the boy of trying to bite him, before tapping the back of his head with his boot as the child lay on the ground restrained by other officers.
The footage shows the child screaming in some distress that he was sorry.
Medulla was found not guilty of assault causing actual bodily harm in respect of the teen, and not guilty of assault causing actual bodily harm and common assault during the separate arrest of drunk driver William Cook at Bankstown on July 22, 2022, The Parramatta Advertiser reports.
Magistrate Price said both incidents were "unedifying" and he rejected testimony from an expert that Medulla's actions in the August 2022 incident entailed, in effect, following his training.
"I can't see how it was, in any way, shape of form necessary for the defendant to lower his foot to the back of the head of (the child) at that point in time," Mr Price said, The Advertiser reports.
"The defence raises that (the child) had attempted to bite Medulla – even in that circumstance, given that his face was turned away, given that he wasn't looking towards the body of Medulla, Medulla's hand is nowhere near the face of (the child), this being a point in time where he was stood up, the prosecution has negated the defence of self defence."
Medulla will be sentenced at Parramatta Local Court Wednesday after the magistrate indicated he was considering a recorded conviction in the interest of deterring other police officers from engaging in similar conduct in the future.
Photo: Parramatta Court House. Image by Astor Legal.