An Aboriginal man trying to provide for his family was on his way to work on a major Melbourne infrastructure project when he claims he was knocked off his bike by police who then proceeded to racially abuse him.
Korey Penny, 32, a Noongar man from southwest WA, was riding his bike to work on the Melbourne Metro Tunnel when the alleged incident occurred on St Kilda Road near the Shrine of Remembrance around 5.30am on Thursday.
He told NITV News the police didn’t tell him why he was being stopped, and haven’t apologised for allegedly causing injuries that made him spend the day in hospital when he should have been at work.
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“They think they can get away with doing anything to us blackfellas,” Mr Penny said.
“If I was a white person in a suit, I still would have been riding past,” he added.
He told the ABC that police told him to “f**king walk your bike”, but as he slowed down to dismount police “spear tackled” him to the ground.
While he was “crawling away” from police “like an animal”, he told them he was in Melbourne from WA to work on the tunnel project.
The police allegedly responded “you’re not in WA now you black c***”, and then refused to help him up after he asked for assistance, telling him to “f**king get up yourself”.
A Victoria police spokesperson said Mr Penny was “spoken to” after he was “observed riding along the footpath without functioning lights” before he was “subsequently apprehended” and taken to hospital for treatment on a “possible arm injury”.
Mr Penny is still expected to be charged with “fail to stop on police request, ride bicycle on footpath and ride bicycle without light at night”.
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The Australian Workers’ Union represents workers on the Metro Tunnel project and said they are standing by Mr Penny.
His lawyer Jeremy King of Robinson Gill, said he was “fuming over this”.
“Korey was just an innocent bloke on his way to work who was hospitalised as result of his interaction with police,” Mr King wrote on Twitter.
He said the incident “needs to be investigated” by Victoria’s Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC).
Mr Penny told the ABC he planned to file a complaint to IBAC and launch legal action.
It will be his word against the police as the incident was not captured on any of the body worn cameras Victoria Police spent $42.6 million outfitting officers with “due to the dynamic nature of the incident”.
“The officer was not able to activate his body worn camera at the time,” the Victoria Police spokesperson said.
“Even though police should turn their cameras on when they’re exercising a police power or where an incident is occurring – there are times when due to the dynamic nature of an incident the camera may not be turned on.”
Mr Penny told media multiple officers were on the scene, as many as 15.
Victoria Police did not answer when asked by news.com.au how many officers attended.