The 2004 Palm Island death in custody, where an Aboriginal man was unlawfully arrested and died of massive internal injuries inflicted while in police custody, remains unresolved. The arresting officer and the person who delivered the fatal blow was aquitted on charges of manslaughter but the deceased’s family is still pursuing civil charges and compensation for the death.
The charges against the police officer were not laid by the Queensland Director of Public prosecutions as a result of the coroners inquest into the death, which put responsibility for the death with the police officer. The charges were only laid after a huge public outcry for justice.
However, it is not just Queensland’s criminal (in)justice system that tolerates the killing of Aborigines by police.
In the Northern Territory
“Policeman who shot Wadeye teen won’t face charges”
N.I.T. Tuesday, 4 December 2007
“Constable Robert Whittington was “in a blind panic” when he “made a fatal error of judgment” and killed Robert Jongmin on October 23, 2002, Northern Territory coroner Greg Cavanagh said yesterday.”
“Senior Const Whittington was originally charged with committing a dangerous act, but the charge was dismissed last year because the prosecution had not been brought within the required two-month period for police.”
In Western Australia
“Coroner clears police of death in custody” West Australia 28th November 2007 (cultural caution! This article contains a photo of the deceased)
In this case a man died of a heart attack while being arrested. The police claim they did not assault him
Dead prisoner ‘bruised all over’ West Australian 18th October 2007
“An autopsy on the body of Carl Woods, who died minutes after being arrested, showed that he had bruises and abrasions all over his body, from head to toe.
And some linear bruises detected on the small of Mr Woods’ back and on the back of his legs were consistent with blows from a police baton or torch, forensic pathologist Gerard Cadden told a Coroner’s Court inquest yesterday.”
“But evidence has been given by all four of the officers who took several minutes to overpower and handcuff 35-year-old Mr Woods inside a house in Parmelia in April last year that no one used a baton or torch during the struggle. Two police torches were found in the house after the arrest.”
“Dr Cadden then went through a detailed report on the injuries he found on Mr Woods’ body.
He had lacerations to his lips, two lower front teeth — with jaw bone still attached — had been knocked out and a third tooth was also missing. An upper tooth had been jammed into his upper jaw and three other teeth were fractured. Dr Cadden said he understood Mr Woods had been kneed in the face, adding: “It would take considerable force to bring about that degree of dental damage.”