Lawyer alleges brutality at arrest

April 4, 2017 | By More

A Christchurch lawyer is alleging police brutality and challenging the validity of his arrest and the search that followed, in which the police say they found two bags of methamphetamine.

Evidence of how Steven Welch Rollo’s arrest escalated from a visit to a service station in Hoon Hay to an arrest on a drugs charge was put before Judge Josephine Bouchier at a judge-alone trial in the Christchurch District Court today.

Rollo, 42, denies charges of refusing to give his name and address to a police officer, and possession of the class A drug.

The Crown alleges that after his arrest, bags containing methamphetamine were found in the pocket of his motorcycle jacket, and his jeans.

Prosecutor Pip Currie said: “The Crown says he had simply implausible explanations for having them in his possession.”

She said Rollo told police that he had not worn the jacket for a long time and did not know what was in there, and that he had just been at a place where he must have picked up the bag found in his jeans when he picked up his knife and keys from a table.

Constable Mark Webb of the Strategic Traffic Unit said he and other police were at the service station about 11pm on July 1, 2016, when Rollo drove in on a Harley-Davidson and filled it with petrol. He left his full-face helmet on as he went inside to pay for the petrol, despite a sign requesting people to take helmets off in the shop.

Constable Webb followed him out of the shop and asked him for identification.

“It was just a routine traffic stop to see if he was able to ride the motorcycle, and that he wasn’t intoxicated or disqualified.” He said he was allowed to request this information under the Land Transport Act.

He said Rollo said he was not entitled to ask for the details unless he was riding his motorcycle at the time. Rollo was warned that he could be arrested and still refused to supply his details. He still had the helmet on.

Constable Webb put his hand on his arm, but Rollo was “of the opinion that he wasn’t going to be arrested”. After being taken to the police car, Rollo agreed to get his driver’s licence out of his cellphone folder, and then began apparently filming the police on his iPhone.

He was then arrested, handcuffed and placed in the police car.

Constable Webb described Rollo as “fidgeting, skipping around, and seemed quite agitated”. He referred to him as aggressive, and later as unco-operative and belligerent.

The officer was questioned by defence counsel James Rapley about security camera video showing another officer checking the motorcycle’s details on the police computer system, using her iPhone. Constable Webb  said the officer said only that “the registered owner and the motorcycle are all good”. He denied that there was something on the other officer’s phone that caused him to be interested in the motorcycle rider. He denied there was a notation on the computer entry that the motorcycle had been seen at a gang property.

The video showed that when Rollo came into the shop to pay for the petrol, all the police in the group were looking at him. “It was because he was not supposed to have his helmet on,” said Constable Webb.

Mr Rapley accused the officer of telling nine lies in his formal written statement, including “smashing” Rollo up against the police car. The officer said Rollo had been placed against the police car as he was brought under control, but there had been no “smashing”.

Mr Rapley alleged that Rollo had been put in a painful wristlock during the arrest, but the officer denied that, saying he had been “arm barred”.

Mr Rapley accused him of slamming Rollo’s iPhone into his face after he had been put in the back of the police car.

The security camera footage shows the officer’s arm going into the back of the car as he gave the iPhone back. Mr Rapley suggested it showed “a little slipper in the face”, but Constable Webb replied: “What you are suggesting never happened.”

Mr Rapley suggested Rollo had been injured on his right arm, left elbow, and wrist, and produced photographs of the injuries.

The trial is continuing.

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Category: Focus

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