31 Oct 2016

Fijian man claims police beating last week

8:20 pm on 31 October 2016

A Fijian man picked up by the police in Suva last week says he was beaten unconscious during his night in custody.

Ricardo Fisher in hospital in Suva, Fiji

Ricardo Fisher in hospital in Suva, Fiji Photo: Supplied

The man, Ricardo Fisher, has filed a complaint to the police over the incident.

Mr Fisher said he was punched and kicked by up to five policemen at the central police station in the capital last Monday night.

The 36-year-old spent two days in hospital with bruises, swelling and two broken ribs.

Mr Fisher - who was charged with being drunk and disorderly - said he was taken to the station after a scuffle with another group of people.

He said the officers started punching him in the head as they dragged him to the van and continued the beating in the police car park.

"A friend of mine saw me getting beaten in the carpark by the police and he tried to jump on me to try and stop them from beating me, so they proceeded to beat him, then they pulled him off me, dragged me to the police cells, beat me in front of the police cells."

Mr Fisher said he was placed in a cell where the beating continued.

He said he fainted and it wasn't until the following afternoon that police took him to hospital.

"I remember covering my face 'cos they were punching my face, and the rest of them were stomping on my body, and when I woke up I couldn't move."

"I lay there on the floor all morning till lunchtime. They came and brought food at lunchtime and said 'what, you don't want to eat?' and I told them 'I can't move'.

"And they just kicked the food into the cell and left me there for another hour or two and then finally they came in to find out what was wrong with me because I was crying in pain."

Ricardo Fisher spent two days in hospital in Suva, alleging he was beaten by police on Monday 24 October,2016

Ricardo Fisher says the police beat him unconscious while he was in custody. Photo: Supplied

He said they took him on the back of a police truck to the hospital.

He admits he was intoxicated, but not enough so that he couldn't recall the beating.

Mr Fisher's friend, who said he saw the beating in the carpark, agreed to speak to RNZ International on condition of anonymity.

He said he had just been deported from Australia that day and met up with Mr Fisher, a deportee several years ago, on Monday evening.

There had been a scuffle with another group and he said he had tried to defend his friend when police picked them up.

"They separated us at the copshop. They took him out the back. He was being a bit uncooperative apparently, that's what they said."

He watched the beating through the window of the police station.

"They took him out the back and started laying into him boots and all, knees, dropping kicks, dropping punches. He was surrounded by like five, and as many onlookers."

Mr Fisher's friend said the police knew Mr Fisher was drunk.

"To me it's more like, if you're incoherent, pissed as, how can you be thinking straight? They knew that."

Fiji police

Fiji police Photo: Supplied

Mr Fisher's friend said he'd been in and out of jail in Australia for half his life and never witnessed anything like it.

Mr Fisher, who is now recovering at home, initially feared a spinal injury because he had trouble moving but he said an x-ray and CT scan found no spinal fractures.

As a result of his injuries, he said he could only take short breaths, and couldn't stand up or bathe on his own.

He said as soon as he was discharged from the hospital the police took him back to the station and charged him for being drunk and disorderly, misconduct at the police station and resisting arrest.

He was released on bail to his parents who had flown from Australia.

He said he has lodged a complaint about being beaten and the police wrote it down in their book.

"I also lodged a complaint that I had $150 missing from my wallet when I received my property back," said Mr Fisher.

"I'd like to see people brought to justice. "People are dying and they just get away with whatever they do. Their badge means they get away with murder pretty much."

The Fiji police have been contacted for comment.

Fiji police

Fiji police Photo: Facebook Fiji Police