Australia police investigate video of officers arresting Aboriginal man

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Video of the arrest in the Adelaide suburb of Kilburn have gone viral on social media (stock photo)

Police in South Australia have launched an investigation after an officer was filmed appearing to strike an Aboriginal man during an arrest.

The 28-year-old man was arrested by police in Kilburn, a suburb of Adelaide, on Monday night.

Footage of the arrest shows three officers attempting to hold down and handcuff the man on the ground.

In a video posted to social media, one officer appears to hit the man several times as two others restrain him.

In another video, an officer appears to pin the man against a concrete ledge, while bystanders can be heard shouting “let his head up” and “get off his head”.

Grant Stevens, commissioner for South Australia Police, said two of the officers involved in the arrest had been put on administrative leave while an investigation takes place.

The video had “caused concerns” and would be “thoroughly scrutinised”, he said.

Aboriginal rights groups have accused the police officers involved of using excessive force.

South Australia’s Premier Steven Marshall said he was “concerned” by what he saw in the video.

Warning: You may find this footage distressing

Recent protests stemming from the Black Lives Matter movement have highlighted the treatment of indigenous people by police in Australia.

Some recent Aboriginal deaths in custody have provoked protests, including that of David Dungay, who was fatally pinned down by five police officers in Sydney in 2015.

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No police officer has ever been held criminally responsible for an Aboriginal death in custody in the country.

Why was the man arrested?

South Australia Police said officers were called to an address in Kilburn for “an alleged high-risk domestic violence matter” on Monday night.

“As police approached the address they saw a man leaving the area of the house on a bicycle,” the force said in a statement.

The officers searched the man, suspecting he was in possession of illicit drugs.

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Anti-racism protests in Adelaide earlier this month highlighted the treatment of indigenous people in Australia

“The man originally was compliant and after a short time he began to refuse,” the statement added.

“Police attempted to arrest the man who resisted and a struggle ensued. Police and the man went to the ground as police attempted to restrain and handcuff him.”

No drugs were found on the man. He was initially charged with hindering police, resisting arrest and property damage, but released pending further investigation.

What response has there been?

At a news conference on Tuesday, Premier Marshall said he was “concerned with the vision that I saw from an incident overnight in Kilburn”.

“Authorities are conducting a thorough investigation, I’ll wait to hear what comes of that,” he said.

Aboriginal rights activist Latoya Rule told Australian broadcaster ABC News she was sent the video by a witness to the incident.

She described the police’s behaviour as “aggressive” and “unnecessary”, saying it risked worsening the already poor relationship Aboriginal people had with police.

More on the treatment of Aboriginal people in Australia:

  • Australia admits failings on indigenous equality
  • NSW police scheme ‘targeted’ Aboriginal children

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