Last year, Star Observer reported on an interaction involving Senior Constable Mark Follington of New South Wales Police, and transgender woman Anya Bradford, which saw the woman pepper sprayed and left with a black eye and cuts to her wrist, after being unable to provide photo ID while at the Railway Hotel in Liverpool in May 2019.
“The larger officer picked me up by the handcuffs, like I was on a leash, like I was a dog, then he dragged me out… laughing,” Bradford said. “My head hit the corner of the room and then he put his knee on my chest so I couldn’t breathe and the smaller officer [Brown] was throwing punches to my face.”
Despite Follington pleading not guilty to the charges including assault and tampering with evidence, he has now been forced to concede that he had in fact put false information in his report of the altercation, once again demonstrating the reasons for mistrust that many in our communities feel towards police and law enforcement officers.
“At the time of writing this narrative, I did it to the best of my knowledge without having viewed the (CCTV) footage,” Follington said of Bradford’s violent arrest at a hearing held at the Downing Centre Local Court on Tuesday.
When pressed about what had brought Bradford to Follington’s attention, he said her “attitude” in the hotel was akin to those who have a warrant out for their arrest.
“When I was in the room, you could see I was focusing within the room, she had no eye contact with myself,” he told the
“People normally come up and say hello, she was keeping her eyes down. To me, that starts to send a signal to me that this person is trying to hide from me.”
Yet Bradford was not subject to any warrant at the time of the altercation.
Saying of his heavy-handed approach, Follington claimed that placing his elbow under the handcuffed woman’s chin, forcing her face up did not constitute assault, only that it was to prevent himself being spat on by the victim.
“She is struggling, she is trying to lash out, she’s calling me everything under the sun, she’s trying to spit.” Follington told the court.
One police document, which the court heard was prepared by Follington, says Bradford knocked the senior cop off balance after pushing past him in the pokie room, yet Follington has now back tracked saying CCTV footage submitted as evidence shows no such thing and agreed these claims were also “false”.
Prosecutor Claire Robinson in closing arguments said Follington had written “fiction” to justify his actions, knowing he’d been part of an unlawful arrest, suggesting that he had “sought to charge the complainant before anyone else had the opportunity” after reviewing CCTV footage, and before anyone else had the chance to.
A verdict is set to be delivered by Magistrate Michael Crompton on May 3.