Reasonable force used at Mardi Gras: cops

Bryn Hutchinson is suing police after being assaulted at the 2013 Sydney Mardi Gras (file).NSW Police have admitted to hammer-fisting and kicking a reveller at the 2013 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras but insist it was a reasonable use of force.
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Bryn Hutchinson is suing the police for assault, battery, false imprisonment and malicious prosecution over the March 2 incident, and is claiming up to $275,000 in damages.

Court documents from the civil trial show the officers claimed the blows they struck were necessary and lawful to stop the 37-year-old from crossing the famous gay strip, Oxford Street, after the parade had ended.

Mr Hutchinson was charged with assaulting and resisting an officer over the incident but a judge later dismissed those charges.

The gay rights activist claims his head was punched into the pavement during the brutal, unwarranted and excessive attack which left him humiliated and with bruises all over his body.

Mr Hutchinson’s statement of claim alleges police persisted with a groundless prosecution over many months out of personal animosity, which left him with considerable legal bills and forced him to forgo work and suspend his university studies.

But in documents tendered to the court, lawyers for NSW Police suggest Sergeant Jeffrey Ludkin and Constable Goya Hedayat used necessary and lawful force when the “situation escalated” and Mr Hutchinson assaulted Sgt Ludkin.

They claim the man threw himself to the ground and wrapped his legs around Sgt Ludkin’s legs “in a scissor-type action”.

“In that process, Ludkin used no more than two hammer-strikes against the plaintiff’s left thigh and Hedayat used two knee-strikes against the plaintiff’s left outer thigh,” the documents state.

“No more than reasonable force was used.”

Police admit when Hutchinson complained to an officer who was leaning on his back that he couldn’t breathe Sgt Ludkin said: “If you can talk, you can breathe.”

But they argue those words weren’t said in hostility or aggression “but in a situation of urgency … and in circumstances where the plaintiff could, in fact, breathe”.

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