Cop in controversial video unmasked
A NSW Police officer found to have engaged in "serious misconduct" by racially abusing two Afghan women during a traffic stop has been identified as a member of Strike Force Raptor who had previously made headlines for clashes with bikies and drug dealers.
On Saturday, a planned rally in Parramatta Park demanding the officer's sacking - promoted by the popular Lebo Memes Facebook page - was called off amid fears it could get out of hand.
"We decided to send the message out to the boys and the community and tell them not to come," Muslim community leader Steve Dabliz told The Sunday Telegraph.
Senior Constable Andrew Murphy, dubbed "Raptor 13", developed a cult following after a series of controversial incidents were caught on camera, including a dramatic clash with mourners at the funeral of slain bikie boss Mahmoud "Mick" Hawi last year.
In one incident on the Gold Coast he was seen shoving an elderly motorcycle rider before throwing his licence on the ground, and in another he was filmed holding a metal pole to a man's head during a traffic stop.
Since its formation 10 years ago in the wake of the Sydney Airport brawl between Hells Angels and Comancheros, Strike Force Raptor has become feared for its unconventional tactics and unrelenting harassment of bikie gangs.
Until now, NSW Police has stood by the controversial officer - but a Western Sydney traffic stop earlier this year may finally bring him undone, after a report by the Law Enforcement Conduct Commission into the incident concluded he and his partner were "unfit for purpose" as police officers.
The LECC found both officers engaged in "serious misconduct" and should be considered for disciplinary action, having breached sections of the Police Act, the NSW Police Code of Conduct and the Law Enforcement Act.
Footage of the incident, recorded by body-worn and in-car videos, showed Senior Constable Murphy and another senior constable berating a 24-year-old P-plate driver and her stepmother after pulling them over in Parramatta on April 20.
Senior Constable Murphy, identified as "Officer 1" in the report, tells the driver she is the "most stupidest person I've ever met as a driver of a motor vehicle".
"We're in pursuit with you because you would not stop … you've lost your licence," he says.
The driver, a student from the Muslim Afghan expatriate community who has no criminal history, replies, "I'm sorry … I'm sorry. I didn't actually know. I wasn't sure."
Senior Constable Murphy says the older female passenger wasn't wearing a seatbelt when they drove past and the driver's P-plates aren't correctly displayed. He demands they produce identification but is told the older woman came from overseas and is on a temporary visa.
"We're taking her back to jail anyway," he says. "Where's your bag? Where's her wallet? I don't care where your home is, at this stage you're under arrest for driving in a negligent manner. Do you understand that? Hop out of the car. Whack the cuffs on her."
The two women appear confused at times and the driver questions what is happening.
"Don't argue with me love or you'll be going back in the paddy wagon as accessory to bloody murder," Senior Constable Murphy says.
The driver says to the second officer, "I swear to God that I didn't know where to stop", to which he replies, "Well what's your religion? OK, swear to Allah." She responds, "I swear to Allah, I didn't know."
Asking for the passenger's age and address, Senior Constable Murphy says to the driver, "Your mum has 30 seconds to tell me her date of birth or we're on the way to Rosehill police station. Contact someone to get her passport down here, she'd have an Afghan passport. You ring someone. Tell them to get your passport down here now or you go back to the police station."
When the second officer is told the older woman is visiting her family in Australia, he says, "Oh, so she's committed an offence whilst on a temporary visa? Aid and abet."
In the last seconds of the video, Senior Constable Murphy unleashes again with threats of prison. "Don't you get aggro or you'll be in the back of a divvy (divisional van) going back to the jail," he tells the driver. "Don't take advantage of our system."
Senior Constable Murphy issued the driver with five traffic infringement notices for negligent driving, not giving a left turn signal when exiting a roundabout, driving with an unrestrained passenger, not obeying a police direction and not complying with the conditions of her licence.
In a complaint to NSW Police, the driver said the two officers made comments to her not captured on body-cam footage to the effect of "what would the police do if they were in Afghanistan?" and "if they were in Afghanistan they would be gunned down".
In evidence given to the LECC in July, Senior Constable Murphy admitted he "lost his cool", that he felt "embarrassed" and was "not proud of" some of the comments. He agreed that his conduct was "out of line" but denied intending to bully the driver.
"Officer 1 denied that he behaved this way towards the two women because they were Muslim, but he agreed that it might appear that way to a person in the street and the women involved could reasonably view his behaviour as racially motivated and bigoted conduct," the report said.
"Officer 1 claimed that he had never been this rude to anyone else before, but later agreed that 'it has happened in the past' (outside of dealing with members of outlaw motorcycle gangs) though not 'many times'. He felt 'embarrassed' but made no effort to apologise. Although previous allegations of rude and discourteous conduct had been sustained in the past, he certainly had not learnt from those previous occasions."
Regarding his comment about "taking advantage of our system", the LECC said it was "satisfied that the race and religion" of the two women "were relevant" to his treatment of them.
"He was referring to two immigrants taking advantage of the Australian system," the report said. "What is obvious is that when he referred to 'our system' he did so because he did not consider that Ms Y and Mrs R were part of that system."
The LECC concluded that Senior Constable Murphy "is presently unfit for purpose as a police officer who has any contact with members of the public in his present mode of operation".
The second officer was also deemed "unfit for purpose". "He is ignorant of his duties and responsibilities. He admits to being rude and arrogant in the ordinary course of his duties when he decides a person may not be truthful," the LECC said.
"On this occasion he made no attempt to ascertain the truth. His evidence was that he intends to retire in the near future. He should not be in further contact with members of public in the meantime."
The LECC said it was concerned about the "ripple effect" the incident would have among the driver's Afghan-Muslim community, "with the result that other officers would be tarred with the same brush".
"The people who hear of this incident are likely to form a very adverse view of police officers and, as a result, be wary of or even aggressive towards those officers with whom they come into contact," the report said.
The Australian Federation of Islamic Councils condemned the incident, calling on the officers to be "appropriately dealt with" and for all police to be provided cultural sensitivity, anti-discrimination and anti-racism training.
"No person should be subjected to such behaviour, let alone women," AFIC President Dr Rateb Jneid said in a statement on Friday. "Muslim women face the greatest level of intimidation and harassment in the current environment and for them to face the same actions from police officers is extremely disappointing."
A NSW Police spokesman said, "The NSW Police Force acknowledges the recent report published by the Law Enforcement Conduct Commission and will consider all recommendations. A formal response will be provided to the LECC in due course."
- with Sarah McPhee