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- Wrongfully arrested St Kilda man is suing Victoria Police in test of new body-worn camera footage rules
Wrongfully arrested St Kilda man is suing Victoria Police in test of new body-worn camera footage rules
Mr Garcia will sue for damages, claiming the arrest was unlawful and excessive, and in doing so will make what is believed to be the first request for access to footage from the police-worn camera for a civil matter .
Until recently, Victorians had been unable to access footage from a police officer’s body-worn camera for civil suits due to legislation restricting its use to criminal cases.
In late December, State Attorney General Jaclyn Symes amended the law to allow access to body-worn camera footage in lawsuits against police and prison guards.
The cameras, which are attached to an officer’s ballistic vest and turned on manually, were first trialled in Victoria in 2017 following recommendations from the Royal Commission on Domestic Violence.
More than 8,000 frontline police officers, protective services officers and some prison guards and paramedics are now using the technology.
Robinson Gill lead attorney Jeremy King, who represents Mr Garcia, welcomed the legal change and said footage of an incident was essential to provide an objective view of what happened for legal proceedings.
“This is the first time we will be issuing a writ and requesting body-worn camera footage from Victoria Police. It will be very interesting to see if the legislation will work in the way the government intends,” said Mr. King.
“In Albert’s case, I suspect there may be a difference of opinion about what happened. Ultimately, the body-worn camera footage will shed light on what really happened.
Previously, under the Surveillance Devices Act 1999 and its regulations, images could only be used for specific purposes, including criminal investigations, prosecutions and the investigation of complaints against officers.
The change means images can now be assessed in civil proceedings where officers will be called as witnesses, Victoria Civil and Administrative Court cases and cases in the State’s Crime Victims Support Court .
In the days following the stabbing, police released footage of two men wanted for questioning in connection with the attack.
They said they were both Caucasian, believed to be in their early twenties, one wearing a black cap and blue shirt, the second a white cap and black shirt.
Mr. Garcia is 36 years old, is of Spanish origin and was wearing a light colored shirt when he was arrested.
Police said two men have since been charged in connection with the attack.
A police spokesman said officers responded to a serious assault in the St Kilda area. They confirmed police arrested a man nearby and he was released when it was discovered he was not involved.
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