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Australian sentenced for filming 4 dying police officers who stopped him for speeding

Richard Pusey in handcuffs
Richard Pusey, in handcuffs, is taken away from his home by police in Melbourne, Australia, in April 2020.
(Michael Dodge / Australian Associated Press)

A reckless driver in Australia was sentenced to 10 months in prison Wednesday for what a judge described as the man’s ”heartless, cruel and disgraceful” filming of four dead and dying police officers who were hit by a truck on a freeway after they stopped him for speeding.

Richard Pusey, a 42-year-old mortgage broker, had earlier pleaded guilty to a rare charge of outraging public decency over his commentary in crash scene videos shot with his phone. It was the first time the charge had been prosecuted in Australia’s Victoria state since 1963.

The most serious charge he admitted to was reckless conduct endangering persons, which carried a potential maximum sentence of five years in prison.

Judge Trevor Wraight sentenced Pusey to 10 months, backdated to when he was taken into custody 296 days ago.

Police had pulled Pusey over for driving his Porsche at 93 miles per hour on Melbourne’s Eastern Freeway in April last year, far in excess of the 62 mph speed limit.

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The officers were considering whether to impound Pusey’s car when a truck crashed into them, the Porsche and two police cars in an emergency lane.

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Pusey, who avoided injury because he had been urinating behind roadside bushes at the time, did not help but instead started filming the scene. His profanity-laden commentary while filming included “he’s smashed,” “justice,” “absolutely amazing” and “beautiful.”

“I think everyone got cleaned up,” Pusey said. “I guess I’ll be getting a ... Uber home, huh.”

When one of five bystanders who came to the aid of the injured officers asked Pusey to help, he replied: “They’re dead,” and continued filming.

Wraight described Pusey’s conduct as “callous and reprehensible.”

“Your conduct ... was heartless, cruel and disgraceful,” the judge said.

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Wraight told Pusey that ongoing media coverage of the case showed that the “public has demonized you.”

The judge said while Pusey’s personality disorder might go some way to explain his behavior, it was a serious case of conduct that outraged public decency.

Stuart Schulze, whose wife, Lynette Taylor, was one of the officers killed, described the sentence as “too lenient” and “totally inappropriate.”

Wayne Gatt, secretary of the Victoria Police Assn., the police union, described Pusey as a “worthless individual.”

“Each and every one of us will face our mortality one day. When his day comes, I hope that he faces the same coldness and the same callousness with which he provided my members when they faced theirs,” Gatt told reporters.

Pusey also pleaded guilty to speeding offenses and possession of the illegal drug Ecstasy, which he tested positive for, along with marijuana, in roadside saliva testing after he was pulled over. He was fined 1,000 Australian dollars ($773) and was disqualified from driving for two years.

While the prison sentence handed down Wednesday is almost completed because of the backdating, he is likely to remain in custody on unrelated charges.

Two weeks ago, Mohinder Singh, the truck driver who killed the four officers, was sentenced to 22 years in prison.

He had been drug-affected and sleep-deprived when he struck the officers and pleaded guilty to four counts of culpable driving causing death, three charges of drug-trafficking and one of possessing illicit drugs.


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