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Palm Island death in custody police officer stood down over dramatic high-speed chase -

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MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: The police officer at the centre of one of Australia's most publicised deaths in custody is again in the spotlight over allegations he used excessive force.

In 2007 Senior Sergeant Chris Hurley was acquitted of the manslaughter of Cameron Doomadgee at the Palm Island Police watch house.

He's now been stood down over a dramatic weekend police chase on the Gold Coast.

Sharnie Kim reports.

SHARNIE KIM: It's the night that's thrown Senior Sergeant Chris Hurley back under scrutiny.

(Sound of police radio)

POLICE RADIO: This vehicle is presenting a significant risk to the community. Vehicle is ramming police vehicles.

They're out and running. They're out and running. They are on foot: two people on foot.

SHARNIE KIM: During a high-speed chase through the Gold Coast on the weekend, the alleged offenders - wanted for armed robbery - are accused of throwing a tomahawk and hammer from their car window and ramming five vehicles, including four police cars, prompting officers to fire shots.

The suspects are facing court. But two policemen, including Senior Sergeant Hurley, have also been stood down.

They're being investigated for allegedly engaging in an unauthorised pursuit, driving a police car in a way that's likely to endanger other motorists, and inappropriate use of force.

IAN LEAVERS: I think it's an absolute disgrace the way the Police Service has treated these police.

Ian Leavers is the president of the Queensland Police Union.

IAN LEAVERS: We were in a position where we could've had a murdered police officer and the same police which would've been in the front row at the funeral are now the ones taking disciplinary action against him.

This is a disgrace and shows a lack of leadership for police in Queensland.

SHARNIE KIM: AM has asked the Police Service for a response.

Eight years ago Chris Hurley was tried and acquitted of the manslaughter of Palm Island man Cameron Doomadgee.

In 2004 Mr Doomadgee died in a watch house cell after a struggle with the police officer which left him with broken ribs, a ruptured spleen and a liver almost cleaved in two.

In 2010 a coroner found it wasn't possible to ascertain if Senior Sergeant Hurley had deliberately or accidentally inflicted the fatal injuries, but found he had punched Mr Doomadgee in the face three times.

The policeman was back in the papers late last year. Lawyers for a Gold Coast motorist charged with assaulting Chris Hurley during a roadside arrest had accused the Senior Sergeant of putting their client in a chokehold.

But the matter didn't go further after charges against the motorist were dropped.

In the wake of the weekend chase, the Police Union's Ian Leavers says it's unfortunate Chris Hurley seems to be drawing more attention than the alleged criminals he was trying to catch.

He says while the Police Service is right to investigate the incident, it's over the top to stand the officers down.

IAN LEAVERS: The Gold Coast is a very violent place. You know, unfortunately it was the crime capital of Australia. It has lost that title but it is still a very violent place where police are dealing with very violent people. Chris is a very experienced police officer and it is very difficult for police when they're dealing with violent, drug-affected and alcohol-affected people day-in, day-out.

Police are required to use force to do their job and it's about protecting decent people in the community. Unfortunately, the spotlight is upon Chris Hurley because of his past.

And what we must remember, going back over 10 years ago in the incidents that occurred: he was cleared every step of the way by every court process throughout the entire time. And I think people need to remember that - and the Police Service as well.

SHARNIE KIM: The union has reignited its call for a review of Queensland's police pursuit policy, which it says is too restrictive for officers.

But the Police Minister has told AM she strongly supports the current policy and has no intention of changing it.

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: Sharnie Kim reporting.