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Three-second warning before violent arrest

DOWNING CENTRE
Ryan Jospeh Barlow was found guilty at Downing Centre court on Monday of assault occasioning bodily harm after the shocking arrest of a teenager in Surry Hills in June, 2020. Picture: Monique Harmer

A police officer whose leg sweep of an Indigenous Sydney teenager was captured on video has learned his fate.

Ryan Joseph Barlow was found guilty at Downing Centre court on Monday of assault occasioning bodily harm after the shocking arrest of a teenager in Surry Hills in June 2020.

Magistrate Rami Attia told the senior officer his use of the controversial leg sweep was not proportionate, and dismissed claims he was acting in self-defence.

“The risk of danger that Barlow sought to prevent was minimal or non-existent,” he said.

“Barlow employed use of force – being the leg sweep – without lawful excuse as provided in legislation.”

The divisive leg sweep manoeuvre is not taught to NSW Police, but is neither strictly prohibited.

Its use during the altercation – which lasted only six seconds – drew national attention.

NSW Police officer Ryan Barlow was found guilty of using disproportionate force during an arrest in Sydney's CBD in 2020. Picture: Nathan Schmidt
NSW Police officer Ryan Barlow was found guilty of using disproportionate force during an arrest in Sydney’s CBD in 2020. Picture: Nathan Schmidt

The court heard Barlow and two other probationary officers were patrolling the area due to an unrelated incident when they spotted a group of teens in Ward Park about 5pm.

Police saw the teens pull their hoods over their heads before walking away quickly.

A verbal altercation broke out, with the 16-year-old telling Barlow: “I’ll crack your f*****g jaw, bro”.

The senior police officer told the teen he was under arrest and ordered him to place his arms behind his back, before spinning him at least twice, causing him to lose balance.

Barlow claimed in court the teen proceeded to try to kick at himself and other officers, before the 30-year-old used the leg kick manoeuvre to bring him to the ground.

An Indigenous teen was knocked unconscious after a police officer allegedly swept his legs from under him and knelt on his back in a shocking arrest captured on video.
An Indigenous teen was knocked unconscious after a police officer allegedly swept his legs from under him and knelt on his back in a shocking arrest captured on video.

The court heard Barlow gave the teen just 3.02 seconds to comply with his orders, and positioned himself on top of the teen with his knee on the boy’s knee despite his pleas for officers to get off.

When asked to stand up, the teen told officers: “I can’t f*****g stand up.

“I can‘t feel my f*****g knee.”

The teen, who cannot be named, repeatedly told Barlow and the other officers he had not threatened police and that he would not have actually hurt the officer.

“You didn’t have to hurt me,” the teen said.

“I turned for you and was getting on the ground.”

Magistrate Attia told Barlow on Monday the threat made against police was not in doubt, but debated claims made by the officer that the 16-year-old had “violently resisted” arrest.

“The description of violent resistance is simply not accurate,” Mr Attia said.

NSW Police officer Ryan Barlow was found guilty of using disproportionate force during an arrest in Sydney's CBD in 2020. Picture: Nathan Schmidt
Ryan Barlow will reappear before the court for sentencing later this year. Picture: Nathan Schmidt

“What I have seen in the video simply cannot be described this way.”

Mr Attia also dismissed claims the teen had kicked at police, stating that Barlow had not mentioned the alleged kicking action to the teen in the moments after.

Barlow also did not mention the kicking in his report to police or in interviews with investigators.

“What is clear in my mind is that the victim’s denial of resisting is corroborated by the video evidence,” he said.

Magistrate Attia also told the court Barlow had refused to make “insignificant concessions” when giving evidence during the hearing, including incorrect assessments of the 16-year-old‘s physique.

He will reappear before the same court later this year for sentencing.