Townsville police shared a video of a cop car hitting a Palm Island teen on Snapchat.
Townsville police shared a video of a cop car hitting a Palm Island teen on Snapchat.

Cop fined over snapchat share of crash

A Palm Island police officer who illegally shared leaked footage of a police car hitting a teenager has been told her actions comprised the tense relationship between police and island locals.

Acting Senior Constable Erica Woodward Thompson, 36, was sentenced in the Townsville Magistrates Court yesterday for improperly disclosing Queensland Police Service information.

The highly confidential footage, captured via dashboard and body cameras, depicted an incident at Palm Island on August 29 where a marked police car hit an 18-year-old as officers tried to arrest him.

Thompson herself was not involved in the arrest.

Magistrate Ross Mack told Thompson her actions did little to mend the tense relationship Palm Islanders had with law enforcement in the wake of the 2004 riots that were inflamed after an Indigenous death in custody.

"The problem is that Palm Island and the police service have to be treated carefully given the history," he said.

"This compromises that.

"What you (and) your colleagues have done have made it more difficult than it already is."

Acting Senior Constable Erica Woodward Thompson, 36, was sentenced for improperly disclosing Queensland Police Service information. She shared leaked internal footage that depicted a marked police car hit an 18-year-old on Palm Island using Snapchat.
Acting Senior Constable Erica Woodward Thompson, 36, was sentenced for improperly disclosing Queensland Police Service information. She shared leaked internal footage that depicted a marked police car hit an 18-year-old on Palm Island using Snapchat.

Police prosecutor Mark Fenlon said the footage, which was not accessible on internal police systems, was covertly recorded on a mobile phone and shared among police in the region.

Officer-in-charge of the Palm Island police station Dave Rutherford has set aside the footage and provided it to the Ethical Standards Command branch for internal review as a potential injury in custody or excessive use of force incident.

A second police officer, Morgan Elizabeth Lyons, co-accused in the matter, allegedly filmed it on her mobile phone as it was played to a group of officers involved in the arrest.

Ms Lyons' matter will proceed to court in January.

Mr Fenlon said Thompson was sent a copy of the recorded clip by another officer, Detective Senior Sergeant Benjamin Weare, who has been sentenced for his involvement.

On September 3, OIC Rutherford became aware police in the region were sharing clips of the incident and reported this to Ethical Standards.

Thompson's department-issued phone was seized as part of investigations.

On the device investigators found a 14-second recording of the incident that was created at 1.27am two days after the boy was hit by the police car.

Mr Fenlon said the clip found on Thompson's phone appeared to be a close-up recording of the video as it was played on another device.

"The manner in which the recording was obtained … was not in line with accepted practices for accessing, using or sharing sensitive Queensland Police Service information," he said.

"When material is distributed like this, it erodes the trust the public and community has in the QPS."

Thompson's defence lawyer said his client, a junior officer in the QPS, had faced punishment including being stood down from general duties as a result of the incident.

In sentencing, Magistrate Ross Mack said he took into account her early plea of guilty and the consequences she would face at work.

"Any punishment I impose today is really of limited consequence to what you have suffered already and what you will suffer," he said.

Thompson was fined $750. No conviction was recorded.

Originally published as Palm cop fined over snapchat share of crash


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