Police officers accused of excessive force in arrest of deaf, autistic man

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Two highway patrol officers are fighting allegations they used excessive force when capsicum spray and a police baton were used during the arrest of a deaf and autistic man outside his home.

Melbourne Magistrates’ Court heard police officers Trevor Harty and Steven Sota were patrolling Melbourne streets when Peter Alamaras – who also lives with a cognitive impairment – allegedly sped past them on February 4 last year.

Two police officers are fighting allegations they used excessive force during the arrest of a deaf and autistic man.Credit: Paul Rovere

Crown prosecutor Ben Kerlin said the officers told investigators they activated their lights and sirens, but the man continued to drive. Body-worn camera footage shows the motorist pulling into his driveway in Melbourne’s south-east.

Once there, it’s alleged Alamaras got out of his car with his hands raised and keys in one hand, and the two officers arrested him.

Prosecutors allege Harty hit Alamaras numerous times in the abdomen and back with a baton during the rest. Kerlin said Sota allegedly sprayed capsicum in the man’s face twice.

“The Crown case is that the force used is disproportionate to the situation that was required,” Kerlin said.

“The issues in this matter really are whether or not Mr Alamaras was resisting and the proportionality of the force used.”

Whether the motorist saw the police lights while driving also remains in dispute, Kerlin said.

Both Harty and Sota have been charged with unlawful assault and assault with a weapon.

The court heard both officers deny they assaulted the man, with self-defence and lawful excuse to be part of their defence.

About seven witnesses are expected to give evidence at an upcoming hearing.

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