A Sydney man who claims he was kicked in the head by a police officer while he was restrained during a raid is suing the NSW government for damages.
- Mr Hockings claims he was ordered to lie on the ground where he was allegedly assaulted
- NSW Police deny any wrongdoing, saying officers acted lawfully
- The former registered nurse has launched civil action against the NSW government
Tristan Hockings, 40, has suffered from a hearing impairment since birth, which he claims has “significantly deteriorated” as a direct result of the alleged assault.
He said it had forced him to leave his job as a registered nurse at a major Sydney hospital.
Mr Hockings has launched civil action against the NSW government for compensation, which he said would help pay for a Cochlear implant he now needs to improve his hearing.
NSW Police is fighting the case, claiming the assault did not happen.
Mr Hockings was staying at a home in Redfern in January 2019, with a man he had just met on a dating app when he was woken by heavily-armed police running up the stairs.
“I had the phone in my hand, but I was frozen in fear. I don’t even know if I called triple-0. I was absolutely petrified,” he said.
“It wasn’t until I saw the first officer that I was like, ‘Oh it’s police, that’s fine.'”
The officers found Mr Hockings and another man, who was the target of the raid, in bed together.
Mr Hockings was then ordered to lie on the ground with his hands behind his back, which he said he complied with immediately.
However, court documents filed by lawyers for NSW Police claim he did not comply immediately and had to be forced to the ground.
Mr Hockings said another officer entered the room while he was restrained.
He said the officer was “acting strange” and making “growling noises”.
“And without warning or any provocation, [the officer] just kicked me in the head while I’m restrained on the ground.
“He didn’t say anything to me, he didn’t do anything other than that and that was my only interaction with him.
“To this day, I wish I knew why he [allegedly] did that.”
Mr Hockings claimed the incident was witnessed by another officer who he said was restraining him. He alleged the man told him he was in “the wrong place at the wrong time”.
“I was literally seeing stars … my head was spinning, I might’ve blacked out, I’m not sure.
“I certainly had a headache straight away that lasted for several days.”
Mr Hockings said he was allowed to leave without charge shortly after.
Mr Hockings has always had some hearing difficulties due to complications after birth, which he said made him more susceptible to further hearing loss caused by head trauma.
He said a hearing test soon after the raid showed a “rapid and significant” deterioration.
“My hearing had been stable for 36 years of my life, and suddenly, after the [alleged] assault, it significantly had changed,” he said.
“It was too severe to be age-related decline, my hearing had plummeted.”
Mr Hockings said he was forced to give up his job as a registered nurse due to the sudden deterioration of his hearing and was now learning sign language.
He claimed he now also suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder.
“It’s been debilitating … I used to be such a happy-go-lucky kind of guy, now I’m always on edge, I’m stressed,” he said.
He lodged an official complaint with NSW Police shortly after the raid but said the process took months.
When they investigated, he received a letter saying NSW Police had found “nil sustained findings against any subject officer” and his complaint was dismissed.
That’s when he decided to take legal action.
“It’s not about this one officer that [allegedly] assaulted me, it’s the fact that the trust that I had in the police force as a whole is completely destroyed,” he said.
“It’s not about the money at all, it’s about accountability.
“I feel like I have to do it to prevent it from happening to anyone else.”
NSW Police declined to comment on the case while it is before a civil court.
In its written defence filed with the court, NSW Police denied any wrongdoing and claimed its officers acted lawfully in restraining Mr Hockings.
https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-08-03/sydney-man-sues-nsw-police-over-alleged-assault-jan-2019/102664838 Sydney man sues police after allegedly being kicked in the head during raid targeting another man