A Victorian policeman says he genuinely thought he was facing a "suicide by cop" scenario when he repeatedly hit a disability pensioner with a baton and stood on his head during a welfare check.
Preston pensioner, John, was also pepper sprayed and hosed down at close range during the ordeal with six police in his front yard in 2017.
The incident was sparked after John failed to return a counsellor's messages while withdrawing from opioid medication.
Senior Constable John Edney, one of three officers fighting assault charges, defended hitting John with an extendable baton six times and stepping on his head, as fellow officers restrained him.
"I did believe it was a real suicide by cop scenario," Sen Const Edney told Heidelberg Magistrates Court on Monday.
The court has heard paramedics refused to attend John's address without police escort.
Video footage shows John answering a knock by police at his front door that day, urging to be left alone.
"I don't want to f***ing talk," he screams.
"Get off my f***ing property.
"If you get the crowbar, you'll have to shoot me.
"I've been maced before and nothing happened."
Sen Const Edney said he believed the pensioner posed a real threat.
"Part of the reason of going into his house was to check for weapons," he told prosecutor Diana Manova.
"I did believe he was armed."
However, he conceded he didn't search him or make any reference to him being armed in his incident notes.
Footage shows officers pulling the pensioner to the ground and restraining him while Sen Const Edney hits his calf with the baton six times and steps on his head with a pressure he described as "minimal, not much more".
When Ms Manova put to him John offered no resistance, he replied: "I can't recall".
Sen Const Edney defended his actions as justified and appropriate.
His colleagues, Senior Constables Brad McLeod and Florian Hilgart, are also contesting assault charges over the incident.
Sen Const McLeod told the court on Monday he had previous dealings with John, who was a known suicide risk - a risk present on that day.
The officer said when confronted, John was aggressive and threatening suicide.
He came at him with his fist raised but missed the punch.
"I was concerned for my safety and safety of other members," Sen Const McLeod said.
He sprayed John with pepper spray to subdue him so he could be arrested but he resisted forcefully.
He sprayed him a second time as he was on the ground, telling him "It smells good doesn't it?"
Sen Const McLeod said on Monday he regretted his choice of words.
"It wasn't done with malice, it was a tactical option and a complete and utter poor choice of words," he said.
He defended his use of force as reasonable and necessary, given the potentially volatile situation, which also included John possibly grabbing an officer's gun during the ordeal.
Sen Const McLeod said he considered the operation successful as no one was injured.
The hearing continues on Tuesday.
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Australian Associated Press