On 4 January 2012, my nephew T. Daniels Briscoe died in police custody.
He was slung about the Alice Springs lock up, resulting in a head injury that the police completely ignored. Other detainees yelled for help when they heard him choking, but they were ignored. Police listened to music and surfed the net while my nephew lay dying.
My nephew was taken into custody supposedly for his own protection. The coroner found his treatment was “completely inadequate”, and the police were “utterly derelict” in their duty of care. Yet not one of the officers involved has been sanctioned.
My nephew was a soft hearted, funny and humble man. He was slow to anger and readily forgiving. He was generous to a fault and would give his last dollar to anybody in need. He kept my family connected and reminded us that money and wealth would not mourn for us when we passed, only those we love and love us.
Since 2009, four Aboriginal people in Alice Springs alone have died in the hands of police or NT corrections authorities. They have promised changes, but my nephew’s death is proof those promises were not kept. My nephew, other victims and our community have been ignored for too long.
The Coroner’s findings are, in our view, sufficient for the Director of Public Prosecutions to investigate and pursue charges for negligent manslaughter.
On behalf of our family and community, I’m asking for charges to be laid against police for what was done and for real changes to be implemented, rather than empty words.
Please sign the petition, and encourage everyone you know to help and lend their support.
You can find more information here: http://rollbacktheintervention.wordpress.com/deaths-in-custody/#briscoefactsheet
Mr Briscoe was taken into Police custody against his will, purportedly for his own protection, yet died directly as a result of a shocking indifference on the part of NT Police officers to his wellbeing. In delivering his findings on the death on 17 September 2012, Coroner Greg Cavanah laid the blame for the death squarely at the feet of Police, identifying a litany of failures on their part to care for Mr Briscoe. Mr Cavanagh called the actions of Police “completely inadequate and unsatisfactory and not sufficient to meet his medical care”, and to Police as being “utterly derelict in their duty of care”. The Coroner’s findings are, in our view, sufficient for the Director of Public Prosecutions to investigate and pursue charges for negligent manslaughter.
NT Police have proved incapable of being trusted to safeguard the wellbeing of detainees. NT Police had been chastised by the same coroner in 2010 following the death of C. Trigger whilst in Police Custody. Many of the same practices and failures contributed to the death of Mr Briscoe, notwithstanding that NT Police had made promises to the Coroner to remedy these practices. As a result of their failure to do so, another man is dead.
It is imperative that all individuals in Australia are subject to objective and independent investigation and prosecution of potentially criminal acts. In order for the Criminal Law to have any legitimacy in Australia, it must apply to all, including Police. Prosecution of offending officers is vital both for ensuring basic justice and sending a message such conduct is unacceptable and will be punished.
We the undersigned support the call by the Briscoe family upon the Northern Territory Department of Public Prosecutions to review the case immediately and prosecute the appropriate officers.