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Daniel Andrews, Premier of VictoriaDaniel Pockett / Getty Images

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VICTORIA, Australia, September 16, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — The senior politician in the Australian state Victoria has said that “all this can be avoided if people don't protest” coronavirus restrictions in response to questions about video of police first knocking down a mentally ill man with their vehicle and subsequently stomping on his head. An official police statement described the stomp as “inappropriate use of force” and the “use of force in using a police vehicle” as “concerning.”

Footage of the incident shows a police car ramming into the man, before one officer appears to stamp or forcefully kick his head while he is restrained on the ground by six other officers. The arrest is not believed to be linked with the man breaking coronavirus restrictions. Police alleged that the man had become aggressive, resisted arrest, and damaged a patrol car.

Nevertheless, when State Premier Daniel Andrews was asked during a press conference what he made of a number of recent incidents involving Victoria Police – including the now widely viewed footage of the man being kicked in the head by police officers – and if he was worried that such incidents might affect public trust in police, Andrews drew a link with people protesting the coronavirus restrictions.

“I think I’m safe to make the following comment,” Andrews said, “much of this, sorry, all of it can be avoided if people don't protest. That’s the first thing, because protesting is not only selfish but it’s stupid.”

Andrews has since said that the incident should be “properly investigated” and that he doesn’t think it “speaks to [Victoria Police] culture.” The officer considered “most involved” in the incident has reportedly been suspended from duty.

The Victoria Police Deputy Commissioner Neil Paterson has issued a statement on the incident, saying that it was an “inappropriate use of force by a police member with regard to the kick or the stomp to the head of the man involved in that incident.”

“I’ve also formed the view that the use of force in using a police vehicle with the man involved in that incident is concerning,” Paterson said. 

The man’s father, Glen, told the 3AW news station that his son was “rammed by the police car” and that he had not been aggressive to the police. Glen said that his son has bipolar disorder and that he had left the hospital on Sunday while waiting for an appointment. He said his son left because the hospital had no bed available for him while he waited a day and a half to see a doctor. Glen claims that the hospital called the police solely out of concern for his son’s own safety and that his son was not a danger to anyone else.

Glen told radio host Neil Mitchell that his son had been subsequently placed in an induced coma by medics in order for them to conduct a CT scan. He said that the family would be launching legal action against the police. 

“I couldn’t sleep last night, I was so upset,” he said.

Sky News Australia host Paul Murray described the incident as “horrific.” Murray described the incident as “one of those moments where police have gone too far in Victoria.”

“But this wasn’t about coronavirus restrictions,” Murray noted. 

“This was apparently about a bloke who had escaped from a public hospital. A person who apparently had mental health issues. He was knocked down by the police car. If this was a person of color there would be rages in the street,” he continued.

Murray said it was “disgusting” that although the incident happened on Sunday, on Monday none of the other officers involved had raised any concerns. 

“Nothing happened on Monday,” he said. “It was only after the footage had been made public that formal complaints had been raised and they weren’t raised by anyone but those responding to the footage that was out there.” 

In recent weeks Victoria Police have been gaining worldwide attention for their heavy-handed treatment of those not complying with lockdown restrictions. Videos which have gone “viral” online on social media in recent weeks include Victoria Police arresting a pregnant woman in her own home for the “crime” of promoting an anti-lockdown event; Victoria Police smashing the door down of a man’s home and arresting him for allegedly promoting anti-lockdown events online; and a video which shows a young woman being forced to the ground by a large, male police officer for the “crime” of not wearing a mask in public.

This past weekend, according to reports in Australian media, almost 200 people were fined and 74 arrested at events protesting the Victoria coronavirus restrictions, with multiple videos of dramatic arrests posted online.

Victoria currently has one of the strictest coronavirus lockdowns anywhere in the world, with daily curfews and mandatory mask wearing in public. People are severely restricted in where they can go and what they can do.

Thirteen top Australian doctors recently urged Premier Dan Andrews to end what they denounced as an “unjustifiable” state of emergency. 

Last month Victoria police chief commissioner Shane Patton was unapologetic as he explained that police had in some instances been smashing car windows due to people inside the cars not cooperating with police or following the government’s coronavirus restrictions.

The Victoria Police have received further recent media attention due to a Royal Commission investigation into the Management of Public Informants which has identified 124 criminal convictions in Victoria as “tainted” due to the police using evidence given to them by barrister Nicola Gobbo about her own clients. Victoria Police have issued an apology and admitted that they were “profoundly wrong” to allow Gobbo to inform on her own clients.