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Australia: Call for calm after shootings

23 April 2012, 10:06

Sydney - Australian police on Monday renewed calls for calm after two Aboriginal teenagers were shot in Sydney's red-light district, saying footage of the incident was shocking but had to be judged in context.

Graphic mobile phone footage appears to show a police officer viciously punching one of the teenagers after he had been shot. The youth, heavily bleeding, is then pinned face down on the ground.

"It's important to keep calm about this - what we've seen in the media over the weekend hasn't done anyone any favours, I don't think," New South Wales Assistant Police Commissioner Mark Murdoch told ABC radio.

"We need to judge this matter very much in context."

The video was taken as the suspects were arrested after the stolen car they were in mounted the pavement in Kings Cross early on Saturday, hitting one woman and dragging her beneath the vehicle, prompting the police to fire.

Of the six indigenous youths in the car, two were hit by bullets - the 14-year-old driver in the chest and arm and his 18-year-old passenger in the neck.

Father shocked

The footage shows at least one of those taken from the car and rushed away on a stretcher but it also shows another being dragged along the ground, repeatedly punched and handcuffed as he bleeds.

The punched boy's father told Australian media he was shocked.

"My son is no angel... but I just can't believe the brutality factor of what happened to him... there was no threat to police," Peter Taylor told the Seven Network.

The injured teenagers remain in a serious condition.

Police have launched an internal investigation but Murdoch rejected the idea that officers should have shot at the car's tyres.

"Police don't shoot at tyres - if we are going to draw our firearm, that is an absolute last resort," he said.

All those in the car, including a man aged 24 and three youths aged 13, 14 and 16 are from the impoverished Aboriginal suburb of Redfern and there were fears of a repeat of 2004 riots triggered by the death of a teenager.

"The incident over the weekend clearly has not done our relationship with the Redfern community any good," Murdoch said. "But our relationship with the Redfern community is fantastic, I would suggest the best it's ever been."


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