In June 2022, an Indigenous teenager was arrested in Sydney after an altercation with police officers. The incident involved Constable Ryan Barlow, who performed a leg sweep on the boy, causing him to fall headfirst to the ground. The boy can be heard in recordings saying “you don’t have to hurt me” several times throughout the ordeal. Barlow has been found guilty of assault relating to the arrest.
The boy was arrested for saying “I’ll crack you in the f—ing jaw, bro” to Barlow after four officers approached him and a group of friends in an inner Sydney park. Barlow said he felt threatened by the boy and that he performed the leg sweep because the teen had “kicked out” at his groin area during the arrest. However, body-worn footage from police officers as well as mobile phone footage taken by the boy’s friend showed no kicking action from the boy as well as no reference to kicking between officers.
The Magistrate’s Decision:
Magistrate Rami Attia said in Downing Centre Local Court that he did not see what Barlow said occurred. “The complainant is a 16-17-year-old young person, standing three to four metres away from the officer making no movements towards him.” The magistrate found that the risk the boy posed to police was “not proportionate” to warrant using the manoeuvre.
Barlow also gave evidence he felt threatened due to a story he’d heard about an earlier incident involving the boy. According to police, he was arrested after attempting to steal a can of Coke and allegedly brandishing a toy gun in response to police officers drawing their weapons. However, the magistrate found that the toy gun incident had not played any significant role in Barlow’s mind.
The incident involving Constable Ryan Barlow and the Indigenous teenager in Sydney highlights the need for police officers to use proportionate force when making arrests. The magistrate’s decision to find Barlow guilty of assault sends a message that excessive force will not be tolerated. It is important for police officers to receive proper training and to be held accountable for their actions. The community must work together to ensure that all individuals are treated fairly and with respect by law enforcement.