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SA Police investigate violent arrest of Indigenous man

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UPDATED: SA Police have begun an investigation into an incident captured on mobile phone which appears to show an Indigenous man being struck while pinned to the ground by police officers, as bystanders yell “get off his head”.

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In confronting vision posted to social media last night, said to have been filmed at Albert St, Kilburn, police officers restrain a person on the ground, and one appears to strike him.

Emma Pereria told InDaily today the man was her friend, 28-year-old resident Noel Henry.

She said the incident took place outside of her home on Albert Street, Kilburn around 8.30pm on Monday night.

Pereria said she believed Henry had been pulled over by police for riding his bike without lights and a helmet.

Doris Kropinyeri said she was at Pereria’s house with Henry just before the incident occurred.

“He left on his bike and within a few minutes of him leaving we could hear yelling. And then we’ve gone out the front and the police have got him pepper-sprayed,” Kropinyeri said.

“We saw the two officers wrestle him to the ground and he got pepper-sprayed and the … person next to me got pepper-sprayed as well.

“When they had him on the ground … they were punching into him and that’s when everyone else came running out, and that’s when I grabbed my phone and Emma grabbed her phone and a few of us were recording it.”

In the footage, bystanders can be heard screaming for the police to “get off his head” and “let his head up.

“Emma asked if he needed to see a doctor or help and Emma has called for an ambulance twice and nobody came,” Kropinyeri said.

She said the incident went for about 45 minutes before the man was taken away by police and held overnight.

Premier Steven Marshall said he “was concerned with the vision I saw from last night.”

“The police are conducting a thorough investigation and I will wait to hear back from that,” Marshall said.

“We will look at the results from the investigation and see what action needs to be taken from that.”

SA Police Commissioner Grant Stevens said “the officers concerned” had been placed “onto administrative duties” while the inquiry was conducted.

“There was body-worn video worn by the officer that needs to be reviewed, the statements must be taken by the police officers concerned and also by those witnesses and we need to do a proper crime scene investigation as well,” Grant said.

“I would refute any suggestion that there is systemic racism within the South Australia Police, but with any organisation of 6000 people I think it’s reasonable to assume you have divergent views in that 6000 and it’s my obligation to ensure police officers act respectfully with their interactions with all people.

“I stand by past comments that the South Australian Police is an organisation of the upmost integrity and the vast majority of police officers act in accordance with our regulations and the law.”

Grant’s comments follow a statement from SA Police released Tuesday morning which said the man has been released without charge.

Police said officers had been called to the property on Monday evening at 8.15pm in response to an alleged “high-risk domestic violence matter where a woman was taken to hospital and the offender was not known at the time”.

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

“Police at this time advised the man that they had suspicions concerning him being in possession of illicit drugs. He was asked to place his hands on his head while a search of his person was undertaken.

“The man originally was compliant and after a short time he began to refuse. Police attempted to arrest the man who resisted and a struggle ensued.”

The statement said police and the man went to the ground as police attempted to handcuff him.

“It was during the process of arrest that the body-worn camera worn by one of the officers was grabbed and only parts of the camera have been located,” it said.

“Police were then confronted by a number of other nearby residents who became agitated. Police called for urgent assistance. Defensive spray was deployed and other police arrived.”

The statement said an internal investigation had begun.

“The investigation into this incident has been taken very seriously and a senior police officer has been assigned to undertake this as a matter of priority,” the statement said.

“The 28-year-old Kilburn man was initially arrested and charged with hinder police, resist police and property damage.

“As part of the initial review, the man has been released from police custody and the incident is the subject of further investigation.

“Both the man and one of the police officers received minor injuries.”

Kropinyeri said Henry had since been released from police custody and the charges had been dropped.

Pereria said she was shaken by the event and keen to make sure her friend had not been harmed.

“We’re going to take him to the doctor for a bit of a check-up,” Pereria said.

“The whole situation last night should not have unfolded like that.”

The incident follows recent Black Lives Matter protests sparked by the death of an African American man after a police officer kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

More than 5000 people attended a Black Lives Matter rally in Adelaide earlier this month.

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