Recent Allegations Involving an Assault of a Public Officer on Jetstar Flight
A Melbourne man was recently arrested and charged with assaulting a public officer on a Jetstar flight preparing to depart from Perth, after allegedly refusing to move back to his allocated seat prior to takeoff.
The accused man has reportedly been charged with disorderly behaviour, as well as assaulting and obstructing police - Article here.
His lawyers intended to apply to vary his bail conditions to enable him to reunite with his family in Melbourne. He had been bailed with a condition to remain in WA until his next scheduled court date.
Video footage of the arrest
Video footage of the incident showed that the situation escalated very quickly after the Australian Federal Police (who have border jurisdictions, including airports) were called.
Reportedly the trouble started when the accused man swapped seats amicably with another passenger. Staff asked him to return to his previously allocated seat and he refused. The video showed an AFP officer saying "I need you to come with me right now." "Either you come with us voluntarily or we're going to grab you."
Police allege that the man rejected their attempts to remove him from the plane and became physically and verbally aggressive, leaving three officers with minor injuries. A passenger who took footage of the incident reportedly said that the accused "at no stage was being verbally or physically aggressive towards anyone".
Reportedly there were five police officers involved tasers were used by them.
The question of excessive force
This of course, raises the question of whether the police response was excessive in the circumstances. Of course, passenger crew and safety are paramount, however there have been many questions raised over the increasing use of tasers by police officers in all states and territories throughout Australia.
Tasers are considered to be “non-lethal” weapons – but that does not mean they’re not dangerous and can cause harm. Tasers work by discharging an electrical current which penetrates muscle fibres, causing them to be momentarily paralysed. Being tasered is said to be painful. However their intended purpose is to prevent suspects to an offence from reacting violently, or running away, and making them easier to arrest.
Each state and territory have their own policies and procedures with regard to use of tasers by police. In Western Australia, every time a taser is discharged on a member of the public, the incident needs to be recorded.
However, in recent years there have been an increased number of deaths related to the use of tasers. Research suggests that people who have heart conditions or respiratory problems can be more likely to suffer severe adverse reactions from being tasered.
Assault of a Public Officer
Under s.318 of the Criminal Code, a person can be charged with the offence of assaulting a public officer if they assault a public officer who is performing a function of their office or employment as a public officer. Section 318 is wide in its terms and covers a number of situations. A “public officer” includes a wide class of people but the charge most commonly involves alleged assaults on police officers.
To prove the charge of assault public officer the prosecution is not required to prove that the victim suffered “bodily harm” or “grievous bodily harm”.
If assault a public officer is committed in “prescribed circumstances”, mandatory sentencing laws will apply and the court must impose a sentence of immediate imprisonment.
“Prescribed circumstances” occur when a public officer is assaulted in circumstances where they suffer bodily harm and that person is either a police officer, a prison officer, or a security officer as defined in section 3 to the Public Transport Authority Act 2003.
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PLEASE NOTE: The material in this blog post is for informational use only and should not be construed as legal advice. For answers to your questions regarding this or other topics, please contact a professional legal representative.