The same jury acquitted Senior Constable Travis Woolnough of charges of intentionally causing injury, recklessly causing injury and common assault.
“After I was handcuffed I was kicked or hit from behind and pushed around a bit as well,” the victim said during the trial.
Mr Steward said the strike to the lower back was fleeting and caused some bruising to the man who had been volatile and irrational before his arrest.
But Judge Wraith said the victim was in a vulnerable position.
He questioned why he couldn’t interpret Fowler’s reaction as being “this guy has annoyed me and I’m going to put a kick in because he’s really pissed me off”.
Mr Steward said if Fowler had that “flaw” it would have surfaced earlier.
“[He is] not only a remarkable human being, but a remarkable police officer who has attended and been involved in circumstances much more severe than this,” he said.
The judge said he had no doubt Fowler had confronted worse, but police were in a special position having to deal with “annoying, frustrating, drunk people”.
“If you can’t deal with that, then there has to be a question of if you want to do the job – because that’s what you’ve got to deal with every day,” he said.
He said the victim should have given himself up initially, but noted he approached police with his hands out after he was kicked in the chest and sent airborne over a gate.
The victim said that’s when he was told he was under arrest. The incident was captured on CCTV.
“You and I know if it wasn’t on video [the victim] would be fighting assault police resist arrest [charges] in the Frankston Magistrates Court and probably not having great success,” Judge Wraith said.
Mr Steward said Fowler’s police record included endorsement from the public, superiors, Cardinal George Pell and barrister Robert Richter, QC.
“There is no doubt that Victoria Police and this community will be far better served by this man being able to continue work as a police officer, as a role model to young men, as a respected police officer,” Mr Steward said.
Prosecutors are seeking conviction and a fine when Fowler is sentenced in the County Court on June 5.