Police Seen 'Choking' Woman in Video for Not Wearing Face Mask

Bystanders recorded footage of a physical altercation between a Melbourne police officer and a woman over a face mask yesterday, with the officer apparently "choking" the woman in the viral video.

The video shows police talking to the 21-year-old St. Kilda woman on a street in Collingwood. The woman appeared to attempt to walk away, but was blocked by the police officer, who grabbed her and put his hand up to her neck. The woman shouted; "He's choking me!".

As the woman resisted, there was a struggle along the street, the officer still had a firm grip on the woman as she continued to plead "he's choking me," and screamed "get off of me". A female police officer approached the woman as the male officer pinned her to a wall. The woman being "choked" kicked in the direction of the female police officer as she started to approach.

"Look what you are doing over a mask?" said the man filming the video during the physical altercation. "She's got an excuse for not wearing a mask," he is heard saying in the video. "She went to the doctor yesterday."

"What about your meter and a half distancing," said the man in the video to police, "you're hypocrites."

"Ask yourselves why you are attacking us, f**king citizens!" the man filming said in the video.

"Why am I under arrest?" asked the woman repeatedly. "Assault?" The woman is heard saying: "You grabbed me, I did not assault you".

"I'm Chris Scott from Melbourne West Police Station," said the officer, after being asked by the man filming the footage for his name.

A representative from Victoria Police told Newsweek that the woman refused to provide identification for breaching the Chief Health Officer's directions in Collingwood on Monday.

"Officers were patrolling on Wellington Street when they observed a 21-year-old woman not wearing a face covering about 5 p.m. on 10 August," said the Victoria Police spokesperson.

"Police made the decision to arrest the woman after she failed to provide her name and address. She also did not state she had an exemption for not wearing a face covering. She then became physically aggressive and kicked a female officer to the upper body. The woman continued to resist arrest and had to be taken to ground before being arrested. The female officer was transported to hospital for observation.

"The St. Kilda woman was taken to a police station to confirm identity and has been charged with resist police and assault police. She did not receive a fine for failing to wear a face covering because she later told police she had an exemption."

The woman in the video was bailed and is due to appear in court at a later date. Victoria Police said "the arrest has been referred to Professional Standards Command for oversight."

Melbourne police
A Melbourne, Australia, police officer stands in the street. A viral video was posted showing a physical altercation between a young woman and Melbourne officer over her not wearing a face mask on August 10, 2020. Robert Cianflone/Getty Images

The state of Victoria is currently under a stage 4 lockdown, meaning people can only leave their house when shopping for food and essential items, or providing care and caregiving, plus daily exercise and work. It is currently mandatory to wear face coverings in public in Melbourne. People with a medical exemption are exempt from the rule.

On Monday, Victoria suffered its deadliest coronavirus day to date with 19 COVID-19-related deaths and 322 new cases. Some 228 have died in the state due to coronavirus, with Australia's national total at 313.