Death in custody at police hands in NSW

The family of Aboriginal man David Dungay Hill, who died in custody in NSW’s Long Bay jail on 29 December, are demanding answers over the role of corrective services officers in his death.

The $50 million Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody in 1991 called for urgent action to stop the mass incarceration of Aboriginal people and made a series of recommendations to stop such deaths, which were mostly ignored. Since then Aboriginal prison numbers have increased more than four times and deaths in custody remain a regular occurrence.

The ABC reported that he had been “restrained by a number of guards around the time of his death”. He died in the prison’s medical complex. Corrective Services NSW later released a statement saying police were not treating his death as suspicious—but it is still under investigation by the Corrective Services Investigation Unit.

Family lawyer George Newhouse believes that David did not die of natural causes. He told the Macleay Argus, “David died at the hands of Corrective Services officers and their contractors. Serious questions must be asked of the NSW Department of Corrective Services about their treatment of David on that day”.

A statement from the family was delivered to February’s rally for TJ Hickey in Redfern: “Our son, brother and warrior David Dungay Jnr was taken from us through a death in custody. David only had two weeks to go until his release after a lengthy time in jail. He was only 26 years old.”

“We cannot understand why this has happened to our son and brother and demand answers. The [Corrective Services Assistant] Commissioner made a very premature statement saying David’s death was not suspicious, which just makes us so angry considering he doesn’t even know what happened.

“We have requested a meeting with the Commissioner with no result. All we want to know is what happened to David and why.

“We are going to fight to the end until all are held responsible for the death of our son and brother David Dungay. But we are going to fight for all the other mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters who have lost a loved one in prison and try…to make sure this never happens to any of our people again.”

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