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Senior police officer suspended over Epping head-stomping incident

The officer will receive full pay as is standard practice while the incident is investigated.

Jeremy King, lawyer at Robinson Gill, is acting for the man’s family, who are planning to take legal action against Victoria Police.

“They are relieved that something is happening,” he said on Tuesday morning, following news an officer had been suspended.

“Relieved it’s been taken seriously, it’s being investigated properly and action has been taken.”

He said the man was no longer in an induced coma on Tuesday but was being closely monitored in hospital.

Confronting footage emerged of the incident on Monday, which took place on Cooper Street in Epping about 4.10pm on Sunday.

Footage shows a Victoria Police officer allegedly stomping on the man's head.

Footage shows a Victoria Police officer allegedly stomping on the man’s head.Credit:Jake Edwards

Videos from witnesses show the man walking in the middle of the road, waving his arms in front of a police car. As he turns around and walks away from the vehicle, the police car speeds up and hits the man in the back.

Another video shows six officers surrounding the man while he is face down on the ground on the median strip.

When the man attempts to get up, a male officer stomps the back of the man’s head, forcing it into the ground. All six officers then pin the man down while he is arrested.

A police spokeswoman said officers had been called to reports that a man “behaving erratically”.

The arrest in Epping on Sunday afternoon has been referred Victoria Police Professional Standards Command for oversight.

The arrest in Epping on Sunday afternoon has been referred Victoria Police Professional Standards Command for oversight.

“Upon arrival, the male allegedly became aggressive and damaged a police vehicle whilst attempting to avoid arrest,” she said.

The spokeswoman described the incident as “highly dynamic” and said that a police officer was assaulted and capsicum spray used on the man before he was arrested and taken to hospital for assessment.

On Monday night, police said the man remained in hospital for assessment and had not been “deemed fit for interview at this stage”.

The man’s father, Glenn, said his son has bipolar disorder and had been seeking treatment at the Northern Hospital while waiting for a bed to become available in the psychiatric ward on Sunday.

Footage shows a Victoria Police officer allegedly stomping on the man's head.

Footage shows a Victoria Police officer allegedly stomping on the man’s head.Credit:Jake Edwards

He had left the hospital and staff called police.

Glenn said his son, a young father who runs his own business, had not had an episode in nine years.

“I spoke to him on Saturday, he was crying and wanted me to come in and I can’t because of the COVID thing. You hear your son crying on the phone, it’s not very nice,” the emotional father told Nine News on Monday.

“Then you see what police did to him.”

Glenn's son was at the centre of a dramatic arrest in Epping on Sunday.

Glenn’s son was at the centre of a dramatic arrest in Epping on Sunday. Credit:Nine News

“They could have killed him. These people need to be held to justice and accountable.”

Following the arrest, Glenn’s son was placed in an induced coma on Monday and was receiving treatment at Northern Hospital.

Premier Daniel Andrews said on Tuesday he had seen the footage and sent his best wishes to the family.

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“It needs to be investigated. I think the officer being stood down is the appropriate step to take,” he said.

“I’ll leave Victoria Police to comment in further detail. They’ll work out what should and shouldn’t be said in order to make sure we have a process that’s fair and that family members get answers.

“I’ll send my best wishes to that family. They’re obviously doing it tough at the moment to have their loved one in hospital gravely ill. It’s a significant thing.”

Asked whether he believed there were cultural issues at Victoria Police, Mr Andrews said: “I don’t believe so.”

“I’m here to make it very clear on behalf of the government that we think, notwithstanding any individual incident that needs to be and will be properly and fairly and frankly investigated … my view is that Victoria Police are out there working very hard for all of us to keep all of us safe.”

Mr King said the family’s main objective was for the arrest to be independently investigated and for police to be held to account.

“I think that it’s horrific footage and quite sickening as well. Stomping on someone’s head really is about as violent and dangerous as it gets. I could never see any reason that could be justified by Victoria Police,” he said.

“I think it should be born in mind that this was a man actively trying to seek help and he had been doing his best to do that. Police are dealing with a very vulnerable person with mental health issues who hasn’t committed any other crime.

“Someone should never end up in ICU in an induced coma following an interaction with police.”

Mr Edwards, who filmed the arrest, told The Age he was driving down Cooper Street in Epping when he saw a man on the road.

“Within two seconds a police car rammed into him … the man then got up and a foot chase continued,” he said.

“They pepper-sprayed him, there were multiple kicks to the head and then they tackled him to the ground.”

He said that while the man was on the ground restrained by fix or six officers, one of them “stomped on his head”.

Police are asking anyone who may have witnessed the incident or has dashcam or mobile footage to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or www.crimestoppersvic.com.au.

If you or anyone you know needs support, you can contact Lifeline 131 114, or beyondblue 1300 224 636.

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