Family wants to help Byron heal
NICQUI Yazdi has seen the good, the bad and the ugly on the streets of Byron Bay, but even she was shocked by the footage of a brutal arrest that took place in Lateen Lane, Byron Bay, in January that flashed across the nation's TV screens in late February.
The three minutes of footage appeared to show a person reported to be 16 years old being held down by four police officers after he had reportedly been hit with capsicum spray and tasered, and then being struck with a baton 19 times. He was left with extreme bruising and a fractured rib.
Well-known and respected as the organiser of BUDDI and the the annual Schoolies Week Safety Committee, Nicqui travelled to Sydney for the recent Law Enforcement Conduct Commission that was triggered by the incident.
"I am so glad I went to the LECC because there was just so much hating going on both in social media and within the local community,” Ms Yazdi said.
She was deeply affected by the inquiry process, as was everyone else involved with the case including the police and especially the young man's family.
Speaking with the Byron Shire News she said it was remarkable that despite everything that had befallen the young man and his family, "they still love Byron Bay,”
"The family are still struggling with this but they did tell me they would eventually like to return to Byron Bay to help the town heal,” she said.
Ms Yazdi said during the inquiry it emerged that the young man, believed to have Asperger's, went for a walk in the early hours of January 11 and had been given two tabs of acid by people from the Gold Coast prior to the incident.
"It was incredibly complex and there is no way that anyone watching just those three minutes of video (aired on A Current Affair) could possibly know the full story,” she said.
The LECC hearing ended last Thursday and a spokesperson for the LECC said, "The Commission will now prepare a report to Parliament, with the recommendation that it be made public.”
"If the Commission considers there is evidence to support criminal charges, it will provide a brief of evidence to the Director of Public Prosecutions for advice.”
Commander of the Tweed Byron Local Area Command Superintendent Wayne Starling said, "While everyone, including the police involved, found the video footage of the incident distressing and confronting, the Law Enforcement Conduct Commission, a completely independent body, has now had the opportunity of examining all the available evidence leading to incident in its entirety. Our thoughts are with the family as we await the LECC report.”
Ms Yazdi said she had sympathy for the Byron Bay police saying, "Wayne Starling has been a real champion, he has a big job.”
"(The police) have 140 officers and they have had more that 140 injuries in the past 12 months, 30per cent are on stress leave and 30 can't strap on a gun and the hours they are putting in are extraordinary.” She cites the fact the incident took place at 2am after the officers had been on duty for eight hours of a 12-hour shift.
But she singled out Justice Michael Adams who led the inquiry saying, "he was absolutely extraordinary, didn't take any bullshit and did not miss a thing.”
"I have faith in this as a process and truly believe something good will come out of it.”