A man who was arrested by NSW Police on Sunday morning died shortly after officers used pepper spray on him. He’s the second man to die after being pepper-sprayed by cops in just one week.
Victoria Police attended Vine Court in Robinvale on Monday, May 30 after reports a man who was wanted by police was in the area. They found him in the backyard of a home holding a knife and arrested him. During the arrest, police deployed capsicum spray and then took him into police custody. He became unresponsive.
“Attending officers immediately called for medical assistance and performed CPR on the man, however, he couldn’t be revived,” a Victoria Police spokesperson said.
In the same week, on Sunday 6 June, NSW Police were called by concerned motorists with reports of a man walking down the middle of the M5 in Moorebank in the early hours of the morning.
According to a media release, officers arrived at 3.50am and found a 41-ear-old man near the motorway. A struggle ensued after they tried to take him into custody and he was pepper-sprayed, too. He died short time after.
Both of these deaths are being investigated by each state’s homicide squad, and both incidents will also be subject to independent review — which is the standard practice for deaths in custody.
It’s unknown whether these deaths had anything to do with the pepper spray, but it’s worth noting oleoresin capsicum (OC) spray is supposed to be a “non-violent” and “defensive” tool used by police. Which makes me wonder WTF “non-violent” even means. If you ask anyone who’s ever actually been sprayed by it, or if you watch the below video of cops deploying it on peaceful protesters, it sure as hell doesn’t look “non-violent”.
Afterwards, when the bus is long gone and medics are helping the injured, this cop walks in and pepper sprays them all.
“Fuck off!” he screams. “Fuck off!”
Then he runs back and throws someone to the ground.
— Refugee Solidarity Meanjin (@RSMeanjin) May 3, 2022
According to NSW Police’s official manual for using OC spray, it’s only supposed to be used against people for the “protection of human life” or as a “less than lethal option for controlling people”.
It specifically states in the NSW Police manual for OC spray that it has “no long-lasting or hazardous effects on the human body”. On top of that, police have a “duty of care” over anyone they spray with it.
Which begs the question, how did two people in police custody die shortly after being pepper-sprayed? In just one week?
PEDESTRIAN.TV asked NSW Police if the most recent investigation was considering a potential link between these cases. We also asked if the deaths were a direct result of the spray or had anything to do with how it was deployed, and if these incidents will change future use of OC spray.
“As the incident is subject to a critical incident investigation, we are not able to provide further comment or answer your questions,” a spokesperson said. Sounds about right.
We don’t know the cause of death for these men and no details have been released about the investigation. What we do know is that two deaths in police custody in one week is fucked up. Actually, any death in police custody ever is fucked up.
I’d say we need to keep an eye on these cases considering how liberally OC spray is deployed against protesters, but that doesn’t really solve the issue at hand in the first place, does it?
If we’re at the point of having two people die in police custody in one week, maybe we just need to abolish the entire institution.