Trans woman punched, tasered and pepper-sprayed from head-to-toe in ‘prolonged police attack’

Anya Bradford

Trans woman Anya Bradford was pepper-sprayed, tasered and punched by police officers after being arrested on trumped-up charges, a court was told.

Bradford, 25, described the violent and dramatic arrest at a busy suburban pub in western Sydney, Australia on 7 May last year. She says two police officers subjected her to a prolonged attack in three different locations after she ran from the building.

Bradford had been passing time in the pub before a 2pm appointment when senior constable Mark Follington, 61, and his junior partner walked in and asked for identification, the court was told. She replied that she didn’t have any and made her way towards the door.

“The larger officer struck me in the head and the smaller officer grabbed me and told me I was under arrest,” reported Anya Bradford telling the court.

“I pushed him off me because he was hurting me. I asked what I was under arrest for. The larger officer grabbed me by the throat and pushed me into the ATM… I remember my head being slammed against the ATM multiple times.

“I just remember trying to defend myself. Once I managed to get out, I ran off to the door. I was shot in the neck with a taser.”

CCTV shows Follington grabbing Bradford’s arm, leading to a scuffle in which she was tasered twice by the junior officer as she ran out the door to the Liverpool Community Corrections Office building foyer.
As the electrode wires stuck in her neck, she says she was temporarily blinded and “on fire all over”.

Follington is said to have pulled the trans woman out of the building’s lift, propelling her into the opposite wall, then pushing his forearm under her jaw after she was handcuffed and brought to her feet.

The junior officer then laughed as he doused Bradford “from head to toe” with pepper spray, the court was told.

The version of events differ between Anya Bradford and the police officers.

Bradford’s version of events differs significantly from the two police officers’. Prosecutors argue that Follington falsified entries in his police notebook and on the computerised COPS system to manufacture a case against her.

Follington’s “false” narrative claims that Bradford initiated contact in the pub’s gaming room by pushing him and causing him to lose balance.

“It is the crown’s case that this assault never occurred,” prosecutor Claire Robinson said. The victim was “not being aggressive or violent” and was “seated calmly … talking with friends”, the court heard.

Prosecutors allege that the senior constable told his partner they would be fine as long as they “keep to the story”.

Follington is charged with two counts of assault, and one count each of tampering with evidence to mislead a tribunal, accessing restricted police files and perverting the course of justice. The hearing continues.