by ray jackson
[Editors note: Ray writes regularly on matters of social justice and his comment here concern ‘Investigation into the death in custody of an Aboriginal man’. Ray is president of the indigenous social justice association.]
perhaps, as someone previously stated, this is to take the heat out of the taser abuse discussions that have been ongoing around australia by community legal services, police watch groups and others. all i say is that when dealing with the national police forces then anything is possible.
the excuse that nothing else worked so they, the police, had no choice but to shoot him. details are still very sparse but what the investigation must consider if the use of ‘special mental health teams’, as used in other countries would have made a positive difference. it is of little use to attempt to train new recruits in this area, this is a specialist area and covers several levels of psychological expertise that takes years of training. if the cops are serious then this is one, and only one, solution that they must look at.
i totally agree with bev manson and others behind this statement that there must be a full and open enquiry but again we must recognise, but never accept, that we will have cops investigating cops. and that will only lead to a cover-up of the true involvement of the cops in this shooting.
the cops using their ‘authority’ to salt the media with more positive spin is an age-old practice and is used every time to dissuade the public, and ultimately the coroner involved in the upcoming inquest, that the cops are innocent of everything.
coroners do read newspapers, listen to radio and watch television news and thus a subliminal message is planted. the case will not be looked at for at least 18-24 months but the seeds are planted.
if the family or witnesses were to do the same, we would be castigated. over the years i have been told that i have spoken out of turn when i have made my views known before an inquest is held. so to must the police be called to account, by their own commissioner, the police minister or the coroner. all must fall under the sub judice laws.
don’t hold your breath for justice though.
we extend our condolences to the mason family, to his community and his friends. he will now walk his land in peace.
29th November 2010
Investigation into the death in custody of an Aboriginal man
Police must ensure that its investigation into the death in custody of an Aboriginal man in northwestern New South Wales is fully transparent, the chairwoman of the New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council has warned.
44-year-old Aboriginal man Mark Mason died earlier this month after he was shot by a police officer in an altercation at Collarenebri.
Police claim they had “no other option” but to shoot Mr Mason, saying previous attempts to subdue him using capsicum spray and a Taser had failed.
But NSWALC chairwoman Bev Manton says police should wait until the investigation has been completed before making public statements based on assumptions.
“There have already been several premature media statements made by police before the facts have been fully correlated and the investigation completed.” Ms Manton said.
“One of these claims has been the conclusion that the police had exhausted all other options.
“I find it difficult to believe police would be so forthcoming in making these sorts of statements if it hadn’t been one of their own involved.
“I hope instead that the police will wait until a full, clear and transparent investigation has taken place before making claims like these.”
Mrs Manton says Mr Mason’s death has spurred fear and distrust within the community, who will tomorrow bury a son.
“The community is already reeling from this death, not only is there an obvious sense of loss, but also a large amount of trepidation,” Mrs Manton said.
“Of course, I welcome police attempts to meet with community and elders to help them deal with this.
“But Aboriginal communities in particular have a dark history of deaths in custodies, and past cases of police investigating police have lowered our confidence in their abilities to provide a fair investigation.
“We do not want a repeat of the Palm Island tragedy, where the community has yet to receive closure over the death in custody of Marungi Doomadgee.
“I hope this will not be replicated, and that Mr Mason’s family and friends receive an answer for this tragedy.
“I call on the NSW police to assure that it conducts a proper investigation into this death.
“I also call for them to refrain from making any assumptions until the investigation comes to a close.”
Mrs Manton also sent her best wishes to Mr Mason’s family and friends. His funeral will be held tomorrow at Walgett.
Chris Munro – 0438 760 242
indigenous social justice association