A video of the incident shot by the man has gone viral, generating over 2 million views on Facebook.
“We have legislation down here, if we identify a potential member of a criminal motorcycle gang we have the power to stop, detain and search you,” the officer says in the footage.
When the man asks if his neck tattoos were the only reason for being pulled over, the woman admits: “Yep, absolutely.”
According to Hayley Van Hostauyen’s Facebook page, the pair had just arrived in Queensland for a holiday when they were pulled over by officers. Police thought for some reason that the man with tattoos could be involved in a motorcycle gang. The short video shows two officers approach the car and request the couple get out.
“Pfft what a joke welcome to QLD,” the man wrote.
“I have no club gear on at all they simply seen [sic] me and my partner Hayley at a red light, noticed a 13 tattooed on my neck and pulled us over,” he added.
One of the cops requested the man hand over the phone he was using to film the unfriendly encounter. When the man showed unwillingness to part with his gadget, one of the officers immediately aimed her Taser at him.
But after checking his ID and searching the car, the female officer in charge allegedly offered a deal, according to the man.
“You delete that footage or else we will confiscate yours and your girlfriend’s phone for 28 days,” the man wrote, adding that he unlocked his phone and the officer deleted the footage.
“Well lucky my phone saves deleted photos and videos,” he wrote on Facebook, urging users to spread the word. “We all have rights, don’t let them take them away,” he noted.
Queensland Police meanwhile defended its officers’ actions, saying they were “deemed to have acted lawfully and reasonably.”
“He wasn’t just a random Victorian tourist. He and his girlfriend were intercepted by two slightly-built female officers who know from experience that bikies carry weapons,” police inspector Shane Holmes told the Courier-Mail.
“When this gentleman unexpectedly reached into the car, the officers immediately feared for their safety and drew the Taser as a precaution.
President of the Queensland Police Union, Ian Leavers, also stated that the female officer had acted appropriately.
“Police correctly identified the man as a potential member of a criminal motorcycle gang.
“I fully support them showing extreme caution when they spoke with him as they would not have been certain of whether he was armed.”
Thousands of social media users have voiced support and encouragement to the detained pair instead.
“The fact that someone can be a suspect from nothing more than their appearance is immoral and unjust,” Jack Sheehan commented on Facebook.
“Harassment thats [sic] what that is,” Seth Hita noted.