March 15th, 2009

Not only in Britain

Posted in The Job - Comment by 200

It’s not just in the UK that we have to put up with incredible court decisions.

Western Australia Police were called to the report of a brawl outside a pub in February 2008. The incident was captured on a witness’s mobile phone during which three members of the Mcleod family can be seen punching & assaulting several police officers. As the officers struggle to defend themselves or arrest the offenders, Officer Matthew Butcher uses a Taser on father Robert McLeod. In sickening footage, one of McLeod’s sons is seen launching a flying headbutt to the back of Officer Butcher’s head which floors him out cold on the pavement.

The officer suffered brain damage, is paralysed down his left side & partially blind. The trial concluded this week when  jury found all three members of the McLeod family not guilty after they claimed self defence. One of them was convicted of threatening to kill the person who filmed the incident.

Two Western Australian police officers have resigned in disgust citing the failure of the system to offer them any protection against attack when attending incidents where they are expected to stop men fighting in public. The officer & the force are now left with the possibility of seeking civil action against the thugs who have ruined the officer’s life and career.

Take a look at the footage. From what you can see, does it look like self defence? And people say ‘only in Britain‘!

Nearly 30,000 people have joined the Facebook group “The WA Justice System failed Constable Matthew BUTCHER“.

Further info on the case can be found here.

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19 comments

  1. Emma says:

    I have joined the group and watched the footage and it’s atrocious, I do hope they take civil action and they get their just deserts!

    March 15th, 2009 at 09:09

  2. Paul says:

    It’s not only in Britain. There is scum everywhere. It’s probably true that Britain is worse than Australia.

    If Officer Butcher had been British and not been permanently injured then it probably wouldn’t have got near court.

    Regrettably this kind of liberal (censored) is worldwide nowadays. “Oh, the pore lambkins, they are only that way because of the evils of society” etc etc etc.

    It’s absolute cr@p and unless we get hold of this soon, we’ll end up with something close to anarchy when (censored) like this runs riot.

    I get the same problem in my job ; we’ll blame you if you don’t solve the problems, we won’t support you in the action you need to take to solve the problems, now go sort it out (somehow).

    I might be being thick here, but how can the head butter claim self defence when he ran several yards to headbutt the officer who was tasering someone else ?

    March 15th, 2009 at 09:24

  3. pchawkeye says:

    How on earth can self defence be a defence to resisting arrest ?You’re either coming quietly or resisting arrest by assaulting officers in the execution of their duty.
    The video footage clearly proved the latter.
    Assaulting officers if legally exercising their powers should carry a very heavy sentence everytime.

    March 15th, 2009 at 15:12

  4. Tony F says:

    pchawkeye, that’s what I thought too. If a police person asks you to stop, you do. Not only is this common courtesy, it is, as far as I remember, a lawful order that as a citizen you are bound to obey. To fail to do so is in itself a criminal offence. This should be enforced in as a draconian manner as possible. This would protect the human rights of those of us whom are actually human, and not thieving rats in clothes.

    March 15th, 2009 at 19:33

  5. Sage says:

    That was appalling and it is not possible to see how he managed to get off the charge; and I thought our legal system was crap.

    March 16th, 2009 at 11:37

  6. Geoorge says:

    Lesson for today, and every day hereafter:

    Taser is NOT a weapon for use in close quarter combat,
    as the officer deploying this one has now learned
    to his detriment.

    (Notice, the weapon didn’t work properly the first time?)

    Training, training, training…
    …common sense, common sense, common sense…
    ..but common sense went sometime ago…
    and, with hindsight, training is always inadequate.

    Anyway, it was just a brawl;
    use of Taser (potentially lethal force)
    was totally and absolutely not justified
    on what is shown,
    and that is exactly what the jury,
    quite properly, returned.

    Why didn’t the officers involved use baton, or pepper spray.
    Why were they so closely involved?
    Why were they so unprepared?

    As an observer at the scene
    I know why,
    but I won’t say,
    on this Blog.

    George

    March 17th, 2009 at 15:33

  7. 200 says:

    George,

    so if I get this right, using Taser which didn’t actually work & therefore caused no injury or danger to the man justified his son launching a feriocious attack which paralysed the officer, & that’s right & proper?

    (leaving aside the argument that a baton is far more likely to leave a permanent injury or death than a Taser)

    March 17th, 2009 at 16:03

  8. Geoorge says:

    200

    The Taser didn’t work PROPERLY is what I wrote.
    Please do not misquote me.

    Use of Taser is application of “potentially lethal” force. The situation under discussion did not justify use of “potentially lethal” force. Accordingly, any such use would be excessive, and therefore unlawful.

    The fact that the Taser had not worked properly the first time
    did not mean it would not work on a second attempt. As noted above, such use would be unlawful force, and that is one reason that the jury found that the act of defence was justified.

    Please note that the actual act of defence was a headlong dive and push rather than the flying head butt you claim. Heads might indeed have collided, but the lawful intention was to prevent the application of unlawful and “potentially lethal” force. The force applied by the defender towards that end was reasonable, appropriate and lawful. Yes, the actual result of that force was unfortunate, but that result does not detract at all from the lawfulness of the act and the level of force applied.

    But perhaps you would have preferred the constable
    to have succeeded in his use of unlawful force,
    and then to have been tried for the associated killing?
    Who knows, but that he might have got the same jury?

    As to batons,
    these are generally accepted as “less than lethal” force
    and when properly applied are considerably less likely to cause death than is use of Taser. Training again: I was taught not to hit the head. and to rely on fluid shock (we may have different equipment to you). Adhering to that principle, I do not agree with your claim that a baton strike is at all likely to cause death. Yes, if you do improperly hit someone on the head with your baton you may indeed kill them, but your application of such force would almost certainly have been unreasonable, unjustified (and contrary to training – the latter is what they’ll certainly get you on).

    Face it: the officers had initially overreacted,
    were rather unprofessional and totally unprepared,
    and the use of “potentially lethal” force was inappropriate.
    The jury found correctly.

    But I do feel sorry for Constable Butcher
    and his family
    and his colleagues.

    Don’t get me wrong.
    I am not supporting thugs, nor am I running down Police officers (albeit I might be critical of their training and frontline support). What I am trying to do is to get you to realise why the jury found as it did. Hopefully lessons have been learnt.

    And to any British officers who may be considering use of Taser: beware, and be sure; things are not as straightforward as you maythink. Whenever you use a Taser you must have decided that use of “potentially lethal” force is appropriate and justified.

    Long post, hope you read it.
    Best wishes,

    George

    March 18th, 2009 at 09:01

  9. Geoorge says:

    200

    The Taser didn’t work PROPERLY is what I wrote.
    Please do not misquote me.

    Use of Taser is application of “potentially lethal” force. The situation under discussion did not justify use of “potentially lethal” force. Accordingly, any such use would be excessive, and therefore unlawful.

    The fact that the Taser had not worked properly the first time
    did not mean it would not work on a second attempt. As noted above, such use would be unlawful force, and that is one reason that the jury found that the act of defence was justified.

    Please note that the actual act of defence was a headlong dive and push rather than the flying head butt you claim. Heads might indeed have collided, but the lawful intention was to prevent the application of unlawful and “potentially lethal” force. The force applied by the defender towards that end was reasonable, appropriate and lawful. Yes, the actual result of that force was unfortunate, but that result does not detract at all from the lawfulness of the act and the level of force applied.

    But perhaps you would have preferred the constable
    to have succeeded in his use of unlawful force,
    and then to have been tried for the associated killing?
    Who knows, but that he might have got the same jury?

    As to batons,
    these are generally accepted as “less than lethal” force
    and when properly applied are considerably less likely to cause death than is use of Taser. Training again: I was taught not to hit the head. and to rely on fluid shock (we may have different equipment to you). Adhering to that principle, I do not agree with your claim that a baton strike is at all likely to cause death. Yes, if you do improperly hit someone on the head with your baton you may indeed kill them, but your application of such force would almost certainly have been unreasonable, unjustified (and contrary to training – the latter is what they’ll certainly get you on).

    Face it: the officers had initially overreacted,
    were rather unprofessional and totally unprepared,
    and the use of “potentially lethal” force was inappropriate.
    The jury found correctly.

    But I do feel sorry for Constable Butcher
    and his family
    and his colleagues.

    Don’t get me wrong.
    I am not supporting thugs, nor am I running down Police officers (albeit I might be critical of their training and frontline support). What I am trying to do is to get you to realise why the jury found as it did. Hopefully lessons have been learnt.

    And to any British officers who may be considering use of Taser: beware, be sure; things are not as straightforward as you think. Whenever you use a Taser you must have decided that use of “potentially lethal” force is appropriate and justified.

    George

    March 18th, 2009 at 09:01

  10. 200 says:

    Geoorge,

    since I didn’t quote you I can’t really misquote you. Semantics maybe but while we’re on the subject. An item eiother works or it doesn’t work, the word ‘properly’ is completely unnecessary.

    I wonder, knowing that launching a flying headbutt which would end up in serious life changing injuries, could it be considered as appropriate for someone to have shot him mid-flow on the grounds of reasonable force to prevent such an injury.

    You’re assuming that a successful Taser strike would have resulted in a death, pretty far-fetched, given that ‘taser-related’ deaths suggest that the taser was incidental to the true cause of death.

    And yes, since you ask, I’d have far rather he be accused of tasering someone unlawfully than to end up being paralsysed. The likely result would have been a possible loss of job & a few quid compensation instead of a ruined life.

    March 18th, 2009 at 16:48

  11. Geoorge says:

    200

    Re your query above, about the appropriateness of shooting the defender in mid-air: anyone who used a firearm during that brawl would have used inappropriate and unlawful force and would be looking at prison.

    And as to your comment about preferring to taser someone unlawfully: as someone who has been sworn to uphold the law (yes, I know you are now retired) you surely can’t really mean that. If you do mean it, then you haven’t got the point. When Police are willing to use unlawful force, we open ourselves up to all kinds of problems. In this case, because the officers were totally inappropriate in their approach to the situation and in their use of force, the McCleod family now have a technical civil case for damages. But the injured officer, having been the “victim” of a lawful self-defence, has no such recourse at all. Sad, but true.

    Apologies for the duplicate post above.

    Best wishes,

    George

    March 19th, 2009 at 01:55

  12. Noddy says:

    I’m a little puzzled by George’s reference to the taser being potentially lethal. Any form of the force continuum if used incorrectly/inappropriately/outwith controlled situations is fraught with danger. What struck me about this case was that the McLeod’s initiated the unlawfulness and the ensuing brawl was, as is often the case, confused. In such situations the likelihood of misjudgements/errors/accidents is high and it seems the jury felt that the attack by the son ‘protecting’ the father was instinctive, however apparently excessive in itself. My thought is that had the McLeod’s been acting lawfully this would never have happened and it is the poor copper that has to sort out the unlawful as best they an and they should not carry the can when it all goes tits up.

    March 19th, 2009 at 16:20

  13. 200 says:

    Geoorge, it’s my turn to accuse of being taken out of context regarding the preferring to taser unlawfully.

    Your question was, I think, in essence would you prefer the officer to not tasered successfully & end up being paralysed or to have tasered correctly & risk the possibility of being done for an unlawful killing.

    My answer was, given the choice between being paralysed & the infitesimal risk that the guy would have died as a direct result of being tasered, I’d go for that every time, after all, the worst outcome for the officer would have been loss of a job for using excessive force rather than loss of use of two limbs & eyesight. He can get another job, I’m not sure he can repair his limbs.

    Of course I’m not suggesting that the police go round tasering people for a laugh, I know you’re not a regular round these parts but you really ought to know better than to suggest I am, really!

    As regards any civil redress of either the McLeods or the officer against each other, it will be interesting to see whcih one wins through, there is a lot resting on it for the future of law enforcement.

    March 19th, 2009 at 17:06

  14. v says:

    I live in western austrlia and am nearing the end of my law degree.

    not only did the courts foundnd correctly in this case, All Western Austrlian cases are decided according to our criminal code and previous authoritative cases.
    The way it has been displayed in the media is ridiculous. a Taser is a potencially lethal force, particlarly when used on a 56 year old man with a heart condition. The tasers here are attached to guns and continue to shock the target untill they collapse.

    28 year old Barry Mcleod tackled the officer, after his father was shot in the chest with the taser (he did strike the officer, as his son was being ‘assaulted’ by him) and the father then suffered a suspected heart attack, his third in recent months. Police are well informed about the fatal possibility of tasering a person with a heart condition. at 56, Mcleod Snr was the most likely candidate there to have one.

    There were 4 police officers there to put an end to a pub brawl, it was not neccessary to shoot Mcleod Snr. with the taser.
    saying there was an intentional ‘flying headbutt’ is just adding to the spectacle. at Barry Mcleods size, if he had intended to seriously harm the police officer, i feel he would have used a more trditional means.

    Scott Mcleod, the only person convited, threatened to kill the person filming on his phone. i imagine other people would do something similar if a family member was being filmed possibly dying by a stranger.

    I feel terribly for Constable butcher and his family. But I in no way support the public outrage and ‘dsigust’ with the Courts decision.

    Robert Mcleod, after suffering his third heart attack at the scene, was not at the trial, as he is in currently hospital with multiple bloodclots in his brain. Bloodclots in the brain are more than often caused by the lack of clood supply to the brain during a stroke or heart attck, and are often fatal.

    The medial should give a balanced coverage and stop insiting public outrage. Angry family members and friends involved should tone down their comments and be happy that the defendants were found not guilty because ‘self defence against excessive force’ could not be “disproved.” and that they didn’t launch a counter claim of being assaulted by excessive force, because apparently they would be sucessful had sucha horrible outcome not resulted.

    The best case scenario here is that all parties move on. If Robert Mcleod dies, and it is found that his bloodclots are directly linked by the stroke inflicted by the action taken by the officer, Then a motion may be launched against the police for “use of excessive force resulting in death.”

    A man paralysed down his left side doesn’t need that. But if you’re thriving on the bullshit sensationalisation of facts and misery attached to this case, then you can go and join the facebook group.

    March 20th, 2009 at 09:35

  15. Agent Douane says:

    Sounds to me as if we should not be suprised that it is officially recognised that proper use of a taser can lead to death whereas proper use of a baton is unlikely to lead to it. All rather unfortunate all round. The newspapers often grab the popularist side of a story without bothering to analyse the detail behind it. I think the jury should be acknowledged for facing up to a difficult decision….however galling that may be.

    March 20th, 2009 at 11:22

  16. 200 says:

    v,
    and there was me thinking the outcome of cases are decided by a jury. Why bother with one when we can just look in the legal books, eh?

    Perhaps you can look up in your authoratative cases to show me how many Australians have died from being tasered.

    Where does personal repsonsibility lie in Oz then, presumably Mr McLeod was well aware of his heart condition. Not so serious as to stop him assaulting the police officers, regardless of whether their actions were lawful or not, not so serious to stop him punching the officer violently in the stomach 3 or 4 times.

    I notice he said ‘That’ll do a lot of good, dickhead’ after having been tasered & remained on his feet. So clearly the taser didn’t work. It’s a shame the jury took in the ‘potential’ consequences of being tasered more importantly than the actual consequences of knocking a man unconscious to the extent of paralysis.

    I always thought that actions of defence only amounted to sufficient force as is necessary, I think paralysing someone is a bit much, personally. Clearly the court regard that part as just an unfortunate accident.

    The men in that clip had a choice to stop brawling. The police had a choice in how much violence was required to stop them. Perhaps next time the police will stand by & let them continue until they kill each other, hopefully the courts will be on their side when told they didn’t want to wade in to risk either serious injury or paralysis with no backing from the courts.

    And, yes, I’m biased.

    March 20th, 2009 at 17:11

  17. Geoorge says:

    200 2009-03-23 @ 1058

    Noddy

    Why be puzzled about Taser being “potentially lethal force”? Our orders on use of force indicate that, if someone is armed with an electronic “stun” weapon (includes Taser) an officer would be justified to use a firearm (lethal force) to protect self or another…or to effect arrest. Our (common law) Courts have accepted defences based on that rule, and consider Taser and “stun” weapons to be “potentially lethal” application of force.

    200

    I didn’t really want to go this far, because it points the finger too closely at where I am, but never mind. Our problem has been and to quite an extent still is, that WA police have a deserved reputation for unnecessary violence (as well as corruption and vice, but that is not overly relevant here). The officers in this case approached the scene of this incident with traditional high-handed arrogance and unnecessarily heavy-handed force. Where a British police officer might first have said strong words to the effect “you’ve had enough, go home, lads” these WA officers waded right in without any warning and began knocking people around. That was, quite properly, considered to be unlawfully applied force, to which self-defence was a totally lawful response. Of course, once the Taser came out, that escalated the level of unlawful and unjustified force to “potentially lethal”. But interestingly, had Taser not been used the use of unlawful violence used by police might never have come to such public notice.

    In Court, before the jury, the officers could produce not a single scrap of a logical or justifiable basis for their use of the force they applied. Putting it simply: those officers were very clearly in the wrong.

    The jury heard the evidence over some six weeks. The jury were properly directed, they were unanimous, they reached the correct decision in law.

    Now one must try and pick up the pieces and continue the professional reeducation of WA police. It is a long-term and ongoing process. When standards do slip, lessons have to be learnt; things are not helped by biased and unfounded speculation.

    My friend, the jury system is the best legal system we’ve got. Unless you really do want a society in which police consider it appropriate to use unlawful violence, you should support and preserve the jury system.

    Best wishes, anyway,

    George

    March 23rd, 2009 at 03:06

  18. 200 says:

    Geoorge,

    thanks for your input, even if we don’t agree!

    March 23rd, 2009 at 03:24

  19. v says:

    200,
    if you’d like to take a look at some more of the horrible things that happen to the Australian police force and their tasers, which clearly they’ve had enough training to be using, then you can go here
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dasbpCBU0hI and watch them holding down a 16 year old girl in a garden while tasering her for refusing a ‘move on’ order.

    the australian police force don’t do alot to help their reputation as much as i appricaite their work in making life generally safer.

    I imagine it’s different in britain, and alot of your 16 year olds deserve to be tasered? what with all the gangs and guns and teen-rape that we hear about over here.
    or perhaps i’m being biased and soaking up sensational media. I shouldn’t have watched “this is england”

    April 17th, 2009 at 10:45

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