Teen punched by cop before festival death, inquest hears
A Knockout Circuz witness told how she saw a heavy-handed police officer grab teenager Nathan Tran by the throat and "punch" him in the face in a bid to restrain him after he collapsed, thrashing in an MDMA-induced seizure.
The young woman, 28, told the inquest into six festival deaths today the part-time McDonald's worker collapsed facedown on a group of people sitting beside her on the grass when police and security guards swooped in to restrain him.
She also told how earlier a female police officer warned her "I'm going to make this nice and slow" when she was strip searched in a metal room, unless she told her where she was hiding drugs at the event at Sydney Olympic Park on December 17, 2017.
But the young woman did not have any drugs on her and none were found.
The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, told the court she has "never" taken illicit drugs and felt so humiliated by the search she now refuses to attend hardcore dance festivals in Sydney.
"I saw a man (Nathan) stumble out of the exit, Nathan was two or three metres away from me … he fell face-first. I remember hearing a thud, two minutes later one security guard put his knee on his back and another pulled his arms behind his back," she told the court.
Two more security guards lifted Nathan from under his arms to his feet.
"His body was limp, he was unresponsive. I saw a police officer come over and more security guards," she said.
"One police officer grabbed him by the throat, Nathan was thrashing his head about … I saw him strike Nathan.
"The crowd was tense. I saw him punch Nathan in the face."
Tran had to be handcuffed by police and carried into the medical tent, the inquest heard.
He died after consuming "lethal" levels of the party drug, which sent his boiling body into cardiac arrest, pathologist Jennifer Pokorny told the court.
He had shared a bottle of water mixed with MDMA and bought four MDMA capsules before collapsing at the event at 10.20pm.
"I would not go to another festival in Australia (after I was strip searched) because it's too much drama," she said.
"You get a lot of anxiety going, it's not fun."
She described being strip searched the night Tran died as "unpleasant and humiliating".
"A drug dog had come up to me and a police officer tapped me on the shoulder and said 'come with us'," she recalled tearfully.
"I was confused, she yelled at me 'put your hands up'. I was taken into a metal room and she said 'tell me where the drugs are?'
"I said I didn't have any, I was nervous.
"She told me to take my top off and my bra. I tried to cover my boobs but she told me to put my hands up.
"'If you don't tell me, I'm going to make this nice and slow,' she told me."
"She made me take off my shorts and underwear and I was made to squat and cough, squat and cough … I don't really drink or take illicit drugs.
"After that it wasn't the greatest night. I felt judged and intimidated."
Security guard Macro Petrovic said he did not recall police restraining Tran by the neck.
"I remember an officer holding him by the shoulder, or that region. There was force, I do not recall a throat hold and a strike," he said.
"He was thrashing his head consistent with being handcuffed."
Duty state coroner Harriet Grahame said she found policing levels at Show Your Colours music festival at Sydney Showground on June 15 "intense".
"There were lines and lines of police and dogs. I was surprised by how intense it was," she said.