In 2018, Byron Bay police struck a teenager 18 times with a baton. Five years later courts are still deciding, was it “reasonable”?
Mario Christodoulou and Mayeta Clark for ABC Background Briefing
Five years ago, in a back alley in Byron Bay, police encountered a naked drug-affected 16-year-old.
The violent encounter that followed was recorded and later broadcast on national television.
It shocked the local community and has never quite been forgotten.
Background Briefing has, for the first time, spoken to the boy who was on the receiving end of 18 baton strikes that night.
It has also examined the broader culture of policing in the Byron area speaking to a former officer who describes a police force at breaking point in the years preceding the incident.
Samantha Lee leads the police accountability section of the Redfern Legal Centre. She says courts are often reluctant to second-guess police decisions made in the heat of the moment.
“The court certainly, when looking at these matters, won’t just look at a snippet of a video, the court would look at all the surrounding circumstances. And yes, you can’t make fly-by decisions about some of these incidents,” she says.