Police have launched a third investigation into claims of brutality after a man claims he was ordered to strip fully naked at Sydney Mardi Gras.
Gary Leeson, 55, said he was ‘humiliated’ and ‘bullied’ when New South Wales police ordered him to remove his clothes – including his underpants – during a drug search.
News.Au reports Leeson was approached by a sniffer dog in the late afternoon on 23 February, at the gates of the Sydney Mardi Gras Harbour party in the Botanic Gardens.
He had not planned to go into the ticketed area, but was picking up two complimentary tickets for a friend.
Police took Leeson to a covered enclosure, while he adamantly said he was not lying when he said he did not possess any drugs.
He alleges there was a gap in the canvas covering the area and people walking past could see inside.
‘[They could see] my bare butt,’ he said. ‘I was not comfortable with that at all.’
‘It’s a complete abuse of their powers. I feel embarrassed and humiliated.’
Police have refused to comment on the specifics of the case, as it is now subject to an internal investigation.
While critics say sniffer dogs are often inaccurate, Acting Commander of the Dog Squad Mark Watters defended their use saying more than 80% of people pinpointed by drug dogs last year admitted carrying drugs, or having been in ‘contact’ with them recently.
While Leeson said he understood police had to do their job, he felt the police’s treatment of him was ‘excessive’.
The incident follows a video showing brutal treatment of an 18-year-old by a police officer went viral, causing worldwide outrage. A second incident involving police on the same night is also being investigated.