NRL superstar Latrell Mitchell was "screaming in pain" and "reduced to a weakened mess, worrying he might die" during a police arrest on a Canberra night out, a court has heard.
"I've done nothing wrong but be a black fella in Australia," Mitchell yelled while being arrested earlier this year for allegedly fighting with fellow rugby league star Jack Wighton.
Mitchell, 26, and Wighton, 30, faced a barrage of media cameras and microphones as they entered the ACT Magistrates Court on Monday.
The Australia, Blues and soon-to-be South Sydney Rabbitohs teammates fronted the territory court for the first day of their joint hearing.
The cousins and friends previously pleaded not guilty to respective charges in February, including one count each of fighting in a public place.
Former Canberra Raider Wighton also denied failing to comply with an exclusion notice, while Mitchell pleaded not guilty to affray and resisting a public official.
The two men were placed under arrest in the early hours of February 5 while out in Civic celebrating Wighton's 30th birthday with friends.
"The entire prosecution is rooted in illegality and impropriety," Jack Pappas, barrister for Mitchell, said.
"This case is about power. It's about the power of police to act arbitrarily, oppressively and violently because they are, as Paul Kelly and Kev Carmody would say, 'backed by money and muscle'."
Parts of Mitchell's arrest, described by Wighton's barrister Steven Boland as "brutal and degrading", were played for the court through police body-worn camera.
Police are seen restraining Mitchell, whose hands were too big for regular hand-cuffs, with one officer pressing their knee into the man's back as he was held flat on the ground.
"Be careful, please," the NRL player is heard saying in the video.
The court also heard Mitchell had described the arresting officers as "weak c---s" before telling bystanders filming the incident to "share it for every motherf---er to see".
Mr Pappas said Mitchell was "roughly forced faced down in the gutter" while in "extreme discomfort".
"This is police overkill of the first order," the barrister said.
Police allege Mitchell was resisting.
Wighton, who had previously been asked to leave the area, was arrested soon after for allegedly ignoring further police requests to leave.
"Lock me up with him. You're f---wits," he allegedly told officers.
Details of the incidents that led to the arrests were revealed on Monday, beginning with Wighton being asked to leave Fiction nightclub after he allegedly had hold of another man.
"I saw anger in his face," a police officer who did a "walk-though" of the nightclub told the court.
Prosecutor Sam Bargwanna said police officers observed Wighton to have "clenched fists".
Mr Pappas described this claim as a "complete and utter fabrication".
The court heard CCTV did not capture Wighton's "aggressive" behaviour which led to him being walked out of the club and that only one police officer witnessed it.
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Outside the club, Wighton was given an exclusion direction to leave the city area within 10 minutes.
He walked away before CCTV shows him interacting with Mitchell near the Pearl Hotel.
The NRL stars can be seen, as described by the prosecutor, "pushing, shoving and grappling with each other".
The video footage shows other people attempting to get between Wighton and Mitchell and the pair are eventually separated.
No punches were thrown.
Wighton is seen walking away before Mitchell follows him and is said to shove another individual, constituting the affray charge.
Defence argued Wighton's exclusion direction was given unlawfully and that the arrests of both men were unlawful.
"There was no proper reason given to Mr Wighton as to why he needed to leave the city," Mr Boland said.
Mr Pappas said police officers acted as though "they were the law, rather than upholders of the law".
Mr Boland said even if the direction given to Wighton had been lawful, the NRL player had a reasonable excuse to remain in the area seeing as his cousin was being "brutalised by police".
The court will need to determine whether evidence being presented by the prosecution is admissible after both defence barristers declared much of it was not.
The hearing is estimated to run for three days but may need to finish at a date later than this week due to court availability.
Chief Magistrate Lorraine Walker described the time estimate as "very lengthy for such small matters", when she allocated the matter on Monday morning.
The hearing continues.
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