Byron beating: Naked unarmed teen ‘took swing’ at police
UPDATE: A NAKED unarmed teenager "took a swing" at police before being violently beaten in a Byron Bay laneway, a public hearing has heard.
The hearing at the Law Enforcement Conduct Commission (LECC) in Sydney is investigating the actions of four police officers during the notorious confrontation at Lateen Lane in the popular tourist town on the NSW north coast.
At the centre of the probe is whether the officers used excessive force in detaining the naked and drug-affected 16-year-old, known as AO, during the altercation in the early hours of January 11, 2018.
The shocking incident, caught on camera by a witness and later broadcast on national television, involved OC spray, a taser, physical force and 19 baton strikes. It left the victim with extreme bruising and a fractured rib.
On Wednesday, one of the officers, referred to for legal reasons as Officer D, said he twice used capsicum spray on the victim, but only after the teen "took a swing" at him.
"At first I was a bit shocked that he actually had a swing … I didn't think he was actually going to have a swing," Officer D told the hearing.
He said each spray was about one second long at the face of AO and was not used to "further aggravate" the victim, whom he believed to be on drugs and acting in an "irrational" way.
"We've got a duty of care to AO (and) obviously he needed some intervention," Officer D said.
EARLIER: A POLICE officer who beat a naked unarmed teenager with a baton in Byron Bay laneway says he "feared for his safety" in the violent altercation, a public hearing has heard.
The Law Enforcement Conduct Commission is probing whether four police officers used excessive force in detaining the 16-year-old boy during the confrontation in Byron Bay in the early hours of January 11, 2018.
A witness filmed the notorious beating in Lateen Lane, close to Nomads Backpackers Hostel, from a nearby balcony and that footage was later broadcast on A Current Affair, sparking the official LECC investigation.
The hearing, now in its third day in Sydney, has previously heard that the officers used OC spray, a taser, physical force and hit the boy with their batons 19 times, before transporting him into a police vehicle to Byron Bay police station.
It has also been told that the victim, known by the pseudonym AO, was kept naked at the police station's holding dock for half an hour before being taken to hospital.
On Wednesday, one of the officers involved, referred to for legal reasons as Officer B, said he hit the teen with his baton in an attempt to restrain him during the "scary" encounter.
"I feared for my safety, he was advancing towards me and I feared he was going to engage me," Officer B told the hearing.
He said he believed the victim, who later told authorities he had taken acid, needed to be restrained because he posed a threat to people in the local area.
"I wasn't prepared to let him walk into town in that state ... the drug hadn't fully peaked yet."
The officer, who was only present for part of the beating, conceded seeing another officer "administer a series of blows with a baton" on the teen, but said he could not say if he was struck after being handcuffed.
"I don't know, I wasn't there," he said.
He also denied calling the teenager, a "c---", saying he was actually saying the word "calm".
"I've listened to that a number of times as you can expect and I hear 'c---'," Chief Commissioner Michael Adams put to the officer.
"I don't agree with it," Officer B replied.
The hearing continues. -NewsRegional