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Officer suspended after stomping on man’s head in “brutal” arrest

Officer suspended after stomping on man’s head in “brutal” arrest

A Melbourne police officer has been suspended after his involvement in a violent arrest that left a mentally ill man in an induced coma fighting for his life.

A Senior Constable from the Victoria Police Critical Incident Response Team was forced to pay the price on Monday night after a clip emerged of a Heathcote Junction man having his head stomped on by a cop.

Footage showed the moment 32-year-old man Timothy Atkins was arrested by five officers in Epping on Sunday afternoon.

The video depicted one constable kicking Mr Atkins before another stomped on his head.

 on Sunday afternoon in the northern suburb of Epping captured the moment 32-year-old Timothy

7News released another clip which showed police hitting the man with their car just moments before the arrest.

The father of three now lies in an induced coma and was being treated at the Northern Hospital in Epping for a bipolar episode when he fled.

Staff retaliated by calling police as they feared for Mr Atkind’s safety.

Victoria Police said that a Senior Constable has been suspended “following his involvement in a protracted incident which commenced at the Northern Hospital at Epping on Sunday 13 September.”

“Professional Standards Command continue to investigate the matter and are currently assessing all available information,” Victoria Police said.

A spokesperson for Victoria Police told The Guardian that the officer would continue to be paid while he is suspended.

Robinson and Gill lawyer Jeremy King, who is representing Mr Atkins,  says there is a high chance that the incident could lead to criminal charges being laid against some of the arresting officers.

“I think the last incident regarding the stomp on the head when he is already restrained on the ground could well lead to criminal charges,” he told Nine’s Today.

Before the senior constable was suspended, Mr King suggested the officer who was filmed stomping on Mr Atkins’ head should be stood down from their duty while an investigation happens.

“I think it would be appropriate given the gravity of the situation. That’s probably as bad as I’ve seen in terms of police misconduct, the stomping on the head, it’s such a dangerous, violent act,” he said.

“Given the nature of that conduct, I think it would be appropriate for the police officer to be stood down while independently investigated.”

Mr King went on to condemn the use of such violence and said that the police needed to be taking a harm minimisation approach when dealing with people who have mental health issues.

“Obviously people with mental health issues like this, who are seeking treatment can often be in a vulnerable state, they can often be agitated and where possible police should be doing everything they can to try and de-escalate the situation and really not to be using violence or physical aggression in any way,” he said.

Mr King said Mr Atkins’ family was shocked and devastated by the incident, and said they were focussing on letting his client recover before speaking about what action needs to be taken.

Mr Atkins’ brother Bryce said the move was a “dog act”, telling the Herald Sun: “I’m just disgusted with what police think they can get away with”.

“It is in inhumane. To see him in a coma breaks my heart.”

His father, Glenn Atkins said he respects police but “this is not Australian.”

“They don’t need to do that to a person with a mental illness, who didn’t even fight back. My son was scared and confused. No one can tell me this was the right thing to do.”

The couple who filmed the arrest lashed out at the officers involved on social media, and labelled the situation “violent” and “barbaric”.

“I don’t know what this man did, but nevertheless, this is NOT OKAY. This is absolutely disgusting behaviour from Victoria Police. Excuse my language but I couldn’t control myself,” the man said.

“He had no weapons (yes he was resisting arrest) but their violent attack and disgusting and barbaric treatment towards this guy is inexcusable,” the other man added.

Victoria Police claimed Mr Atkins became aggressive during the arrest, which lead to an officer being assaulted.

“Police were called to Cooper Street, Epping, to reports of a male behaving erratically about 4.10 pm (Sunday),” Victoria Police said.

“Upon arrival the male allegedly became aggressive and damaged a police vehicle whilst attempting to avoid arrest.

“During the highly dynamic incident a police officer was assaulted and OC spray was deployed before the man was arrested and subsequently taken to hospital for assessment.

“The arrest has been referred to Professional Standards Command for oversight.”