'Naked boy' beaten by officers': Byron demands answers
DRAMATIC footage of a naked, 16-year-old boy pinned down and beaten by four police officers in a Byron Bay laneway has sparked a police review into the incident.
Part of the shocking video was aired on A Current Affair on Tuesday night that showed the boy screaming for help as the officers held him down, swore at him and struck him with a baton numerous times.
In a statement, NSW Police said officers were called to Lateen Lane after reports of a naked male acting erratically in the early hours of January 11.
The teen appeared to be impaired by drugs and/or alcohol lying on the roadway when police arrived, but pepper spray was used after the teen allegedly became aggressive. A Taser was later deployed on the youth after he allegedly attempted to assault the officers.
Police said the teenager continued to violently resist officers until he was arrested and taken to Byron Bay police station.
Byron Mayor Simon Richardson labelled the footage "damning" and "quite disturbing treatment of someone in the community".
"I think overwhelmingly as a community we would say that was an outrageous misuse of excessive force," Cr Richardson said.
"However, we don't know the story before and we don't know the story after and we are only getting a 60 second grab."
He said he met with police about a week ago to discuss operations throughout the shire in recent months.
'We will try to get to the bottom of it and try to get an explanation and try to make sure if it was a clear breach of the duty of care from these police that steps are put in place to make sure it doesn't happen again."
The Lateen Lane arrest is one of a spate of vicious, drug-fuelled assaults at Byron Bay over the summer.
Tweed/Byron Local Area Command Superintendent Wayne Starling said drug abuse in the shire has taken a toll on the community and the force.
He said some officers have taken leave to recover from injuries sustained during drug-related altercations.
"I have concern when people do partake in such drugs for themselves, for police and for the wider community," Supt Starling said.
"More often than not, it's my officers being injured by people on drugs."
But he said he wouldn't call drug abuse in Byron Bay an epidemic.
Pill testing facilities could be one approach to reduce the violence, a leading Northern Rivers drug and alcohol outreach program manager said.
Kyristan Gruft warned against the risks of "party drugs" such as amphetamines and the harmful pollutants they could contain.
"No one really knows what the drug really is that they are buying, which is quite problematic," Mr Gruft said.
"I believe that (testing) wouldn't be the solution but it would reduce the harm and overdoses".