An Easy Death in Protective Custody – Terrance Daniel Briscoe, 5/1/2012

Hon Paul Raymond Henderson MLA

Dear Chief Minister

Re The death in protective custody in Alice Springs of Terrance Daniel Briscoe, 5/1/2012

It was not an easy death for Terrance Daniel Briscoe, aged 28, early this morning Thursday 5th January 2012 in protective custody at the Alice Springs police lockup.

But for the people of Alice Springs, Terry’s death is as unremarkable as so much of road kill on the Stuart Highway, which cuts through town on it’s way from Adelaide to Darwin. All the respectable folk in town could get pissed to their hearts content at the local pub, and perhaps catch a taxi home, blissfully unaware of the events in the lockup down the road. For Aboriginal people, and for Mr Briscoe in particular it’s the usual story of a casual drink with friends, then being taken into protective custody by police, conflicting reports of a bashing or a fall in custody, no medical care, and a one way trip to the cemetery.

The police say Terry injured his head by falling while in custody and later died of cardiac arrest. He was only 28. Terry’s friends who were arrested with him say they saw five officers bash him.

Wonder we all do how Terry was healthy when arrested, and zipped into a body bag when released.

How and why? How Terry died will no doubt be the matter of much dispute. Will the police be able to collaborate on their stories? Or
if the investigation is to be worth it’s salt are they to be separated and put off duty while the investigation proceeds.

Why didn’t Terry receive any medical attention for his injuries?

And why was Terry arrested at all. Is the Northern Territory zero tolerance policy on public drinking, just a policy for locking up
Aboriginal people? If the intervention is forcing Aboriginal people to migrate off their homelands and come to Alice Springs, that’s not a reason to lock them up in protective custody. And how protective is protective custody? Since the Northern Territory Intervention did away with the Community Development Employment Program, it has reduced the capacity of local Aboriginal communities to support their members in all of their situations and difficulties, including support and help for those who are drunk.

Most of us have been drunk at some stage in our lives, but for Terry it meant being taken into protective custody. I’ve met many indigenous people who literally don’t touch a drop over the last several decades.

The indigenous community has the highest rate of non-drinkers of all the community groups in Australia. Many leave drinking later in life and there is no reason Terry could not have done the same.

If the information that Terry Briscoe was subjected to a bashing is proven, then there is every reason to believe that it has something to do with his subsequent death.

If Terry had been alive 50 years ago men like him would have been the backbone of the Northern Territory economy, and one hundred years ago men like him would have been warriors of their tribes, knowledgable, fit and capable men.

Now Terry has been reduced to another death in protective custody.

Australia is diminished for it.

I ask that your government ensure that Terry’s death is not in vain. A thorough and impartial investigation must be carried out to ensure that the whole truth of the circumstances of his death are investigated and the truth achieved. Any death in custody, especially
given the circumstances here, is to be treated as a homicide unless it is shown to be otherwise. That means that the investigation must proceed with serious intent to get to the truth at all costs.

Terrance was my nephew by marriage.

Daniel Taylor

6 thoughts on “An Easy Death in Protective Custody – Terrance Daniel Briscoe, 5/1/2012

  1. James Parminter says:

    As I see it, a full and independent investigation (independent of the local police force) must be put into place, the police officers on duty at the time of Terry’s death suspended from duty pending the conclusion of such an investigation. The investigation must take statements from all involved and from all witnesses to the events, it must establish the reason why Terry was taken into protective custody and whether or not Terry was assaulted before or after being taken into custody and by whom. It must through medical evidence establish any injuries inflicted on Terry and whether any such injuries contributed to his death either directly or indirectly. It also needs to establish whether Terry was supervised while in protective custody for his own safety, e.g. regular visual checks which are SOP for anybody held in custody. It needs to establish whether Terry was medically examined on being subjected to protective custody, when and how he was found to be unwell, how long it took to call medical aid to the scene etcetera. Depending on the findings of an independent investigation it may be established whether or not any police officer(s) or other(s) contributed to Terry’s death either directly (such as by assault) or indirectly (such as failure to carry out regular visual checks). When the facts are established if a police officer (officers) or other person(s) are indicated to have contributed to Terry’s death either directly through assault or indirectly through failure to carry out SOPs then charges should be brought and the person(s) held accountable to the full extent of the law. A death occurring as a result of physical injuries inflicted warrants a charge of murder or manslaughter.

    Such an investigation should also establish whether or not Terry’s protective custody was legal and whether or not Terry was treated equally to other members of Australian society.

    Finally the Australian people need to take a long hard look at the events and ask themselves whether justice is served and whether it is served equally to all members of Australian society.

    This matter should not be allowed to rest until justice is done and is seen to be done in a transparent manner on Terry’s behalf.

    James Parminter

  2. Christine Cole says:

    I fully and totally agree with the letter which Daniel Taylor sent to the Chief Minister of NT and the response of James Parminter re the death in custody of the young brother in Alice Springs.

    If I may, as I am an Aboriginal Born-Again Christian, share my prayer: May God bless and comfort the families, friends and people who knew the young brother and please God, meet their every need at this very traumatic and very sad time. My love, sympathy and condolences to all the family, friends and contacts of our young brother.

    Please God, bring those guilty to justice immediately who participated in this death in custody.

    I plead the Blood of my Lord and Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ on this situation, to weed out those cruel and murderous officers in the police services in Alice Springs and everywhere and to bring them to justice/ to assist in answering questions raised.

    In faith and trust in you Lord, I thank you Lord God for answering my prayer, and that of the many, many people who share this prayer.

    In Unity, in the Struggle, in Fairness and in Justice!

    Christine Cole
    Ngarrindjerri woman from Raukkan SA, now living in Broken Hill NSW.

    May God be with us all as we deal with this cruel matter in our midst. ‘If God is for us, who can be against us?’ (Sorry, not sure where that is in the Bible, but I know it is there). And I know and believe that God is for us/those who seek justice and fairness.

  3. Graham Steel says:

    I think its pretty racist of you guys to only ever focus on Aboriginal deaths in custody .
    Having served time in Qld prisons , I’ve seen far more white deaths in custody , yet no one kicks up a stink about them .
    Why do Aboriginals matter to you guys ?

  4. i have been advised by the family of terrance daniel briscoe that thanks to the generosity shown by supporters of the family they have enough funds to properly bury him with full honour and respect. the family sincerely thanks all those who made donations to allow this to happen.

    the investigations into the circumstances of his death are continuing and will be made known as and when this information becomes available.

    to my utter shame, in a previous posting i gave erroneous information on the death of letty scott as being in 2004. letty sadly left us on st. valentine’s day 14 february 2009. i sincerely regret any hurt this may have caused daniel and her family.


    ray jackson
    indigenous social justice association
    (m) 0450 651 063
    (p) 02 9318 0947
    address 1303/200 pitt street waterloo 2017

    we live and work on the stolen lands of the gadigal people.

    sovereignty treaty social justice

  5. I truely undersstand and i am sorry for your loss.Though sadly as the system is with the police and government there will be no true investergation .and even if an un house investagation was conducted and found that an officer was responsible for his death nothing will be done.As was the cans here inQueensland the death incustody on palm island that was -murder -and the truth covered up and Hurley found not guilt. -do you not know why –well the why is–BECAUSE YOU ARE ABORIGINAL – and racist attitude exist in -NT- AS WELL AS IN -QLD- A ND A POLICE OFFICER WILL NEVER BE FOUND GUILTY OF KILLING A WHITE OR BLACK PERSON IN CUSTODY That is the courrupt system we have in society .If i am wrong some one please show me out of the hundreds of deaths in police custody how come not one has been found guilty. Police are courrupt and no better than the criminal elements in society.

  6. shane Backhouse says:

    This is for Graham Steel i worked in a prison system for -12-years so i understand where you are coming from .And i do agree with you .I have the following to say for all to think about ,and reflect on what you say and what you do .
    I have written and had published a book called –THE MASTER OF THE KEYS-who lives who dies -i decide.Those words are the truest ones you will ever hear.
    This book was published a year ago now.And i read, hear in the papers/tv/ collums from news papers about suicides in custody.I believe you all just want to hear your selves talk ,and do nothing.I gave everyone the opportunity to do something about suicides in custody. But as of today i have not heard a word from anyone on the deaths in custody .As really i told why and how suicides occure and how they are assisted .But no one is really intrestered, all talk no action .If i am wrong ,please contact your Editor of this paper .
    Sadly until all unite and take action instead of talk ,( people power in mass is powerfull) suicides will continue ,and some will be assisted with by authority .

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