‘Unnecessary force’: Protester’s charge dropped on appeal
An Extinction Rebellion protester has been cleared of obstructing police after a judge found the force used during her arrest was not reasonably necessary.
Emma Jade Dorge was charged during a climate change protest in the Brisbane CBD in August 2019.
Dorge was part of a group who sat down in the middle of a city intersection.
After being forcibly removed from the road she was charged with being a pedestrian causing an obstruction and obstructing police.
She was convicted and fined $1400 for both offences after a hearing in the Magistrates Court last year.
Dorge appealed the conviction of obstructing police to the District Court on two grounds.
During her arrest it emerged an officer had knelt on her neck for about 15 seconds causing her to struggle with breathing however the magistrate found it neither excessive nor unreasonable in the circumstances facing the officer.
Dorge's barrister Martin Longhurst, instructed by Justin Sibley of Sibley Lawyers, today argued that it was excessive force and therefore his client's conviction should be set aside.
District Court Chief Judge Brian Devereaux decided the neck incident would not form part of his decision as it had not occurred during Dorge's alleged obstruction of police.
Instead he focused on a wrist lock that Dorge had been placed in as officers walked her to a police vehicle.
It was around this time that Dorge dropped twice to the ground, behaviour which police alleged amounted to obstructions.
Chief Judge Devereaux found the force used in applying the wrist lock was not reasonably necessary.
He said video played to the court showed Dorge was not struggling or trying to escape at the time.
"If that's so, then the force applied to her … was not reasonably necessary, so the officer was not acting lawfully and the consequent act of the appellant (Dorge) could not be unlawful," he said.
"The wristlock was simply unnecessary."
Her conviction was set aside and her fine for obstructing traffic reduced to $800.
Outside court Dorge said she hoped police would evaluate how they used force on protesters and "have some reservation towards doing it next time".
Originally published as 'Unnecessary force': Protester's charge dropped on appeal