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Police officer who stomped on man’s head in Epping last year found to have used ‘lawful’ force

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A Victoria Police officer who was filmed stomping on a man’s head in Epping last year, leaving him with severe injuries, has been found to have used ‘lawful’ force by the state’s anti-corruption watchdog.

The finding was handed down by the Independent Broad-Based Anti-Corruption Commission, IBAC, last month and stated ‘the situation justified police using force’ against victim Tim Atkins, and criminal charges against the officers were ‘not appropriate’.

Mr Atkins’ lawyer Jeremy King criticised the finding and said Mr Atkins was devastated by the result, and will be pursuing further legal action.

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Footage emerged of the incident in September 2020, when Mr Atkins, who has bipolar disorder, was arrested outside Northern Health’s hospital while in the midst of a severe episode.

Police were called to the scene after Mr Atkins allegedly broke a glass hospital door.

Footage shows Mr Atkins walking between cars on a busy road and allegedly kicking and hitting a police car before another police vehicle hits him from behind, knocking him off his feet and sending him airborne before landing on the road in front of traffic.

Another piece of footage, taken some time later by a passing motorist, shows Mr Atkins lying face-down on the median strip surrounded by five officers who are placing him under arrest.

When he attempts to get up off the ground, one officer allegedly stomps down on the back of his head.

He was also doused in capsicum spray, and three of the officers did not turn on their body-worn cameras.

The IBAC found the officers had failed to inform Mr Atkins of the reason for his arrest or provide him care after he was capsicum-sprayed.

Mr Atkins suffered severe injuries and placed into an induced coma after the arrest.

The officer who stomped on his head was suspended with full pay, while his colleague who rammed Mr Atkins was barred from driving a police vehicle.

Victoria Police will now conduct an internal investigation to determine whether disciplinary action will be taken.

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