Tek sought advice from RLC after he sustained injuries when being ejected from a local police station.
Although RLC assisted Tek to make a formal complaint against the officers involved, his experience with the internal complaint handling process has been punctuated by recurring mistakes, delays and lack of recognition by the NSW Police Force.
For Tek, who is homeless, these experiences have only contributed to the emotional distress of the incident and his feelings of marginalisation in regards to the justice system.
On the night of the incident, Tek had been drinking at a pub in Sydney in the early evening when he was asked to leave. When Tek refused, police officers fined him for failing to leave the premises and detained him as an intoxicated person at a local police station.
After several hours, the police decided that he no longer needed to be detained and told him to leave. Tek explained that he had nowhere else to go because they had detained him beyond the closing time of his homeless shelter, his only source of accommodation.
The police officers physically dragged Tek from the police station. Tek sustained bruising and abrasions to his lower torso.
Although Tek was only partially conscious, he was left on the public pathway until the paramedics were called to treat his injuries. Tek felt that the police use of force was unnecessary and unlawful and RLC agreed.
As a result of this incident, he has suffered both physically and psychologically and is understandably disillusioned with the NSW Police Force.
To make things worse, the police version of events tells a very different story. The official custody forms state that Tek was “escorted out of the charge room and lay on the ground without moving”, with the paramedics called due to his “low blood sugar”, a condition commonly caused by alcohol intoxication.
This version proffers that Tek was so intoxicated as to need an ambulance, but not intoxicated enough to be kept in custody.
Throughout the internal complaint process, Tek has been treated as a person peripheral to the investigation rather than the person aggrieved. When Tek contacted the police to make a complaint, he was interviewed without an interpreter even though he could not speak or read English fluently.
Tek received no information on the progress of his complaint for several months following his interview, despite the fact that the NSW Police Force Complaint Handling Guidelines require investigators to provide complainants with regular status updates.
Although the interviewing officers assured Tek that his statement served as a formal complaint under Part 8A of the Police Act 1990 (NSW), RLC’s attempts to follow up on the investigation on his behalf were rebuffed by claims that there was no record of a complaint under his name.
Ultimately, Tek was informed that his statement had not been treated as a personal complaint but as a witness statement in a complaint lodged under the name of another police officer.
Although this mistake was subsequently corrected, Tek was understandably disappointed that his complaint had not been acknowledged.
The matter has been made worse by further mistakes and miscommunication by the NSW Police Force. For example, RLC has made multiple requests on Tek’s behalf to gain access to his initial statement and the photos of his injuries taken by the interviewing officers.
To date, the police have ignored these requests even though Tek has a legal right to access these materials.
Tek was most disappointed by the manner in which the police handled the outcome of his complaint.
Tek was initially informed that parts of his complaint had been upheld, including unreasonable use of force and a failure to maintain accurate Custody Management Records.
It was only after RLC sought further details about the issues investigated that the police advised Tek that they had made another error. Specifically, they said that they had not upheld the finding of excessive force. As such, the officers involved were only required to complete further training regarding record management.
Tek has felt ignored and cast aside throughout the process. This has compounded his mental health issues, and Tek has been admitted to hospital on at least two occasions during the complaint process, because he has been assessed as a suicide risk.
Tek has said that he hopes telling his story will encourage the Police Force to see him as a person who has been hurt in many ways by police, not just as “an unhappy customer”.