The Tall Man

[Editor’s Note: Ray Jackson continues his good work here analysing the ‘The Tall Man’ that was shown on SBS this week. Ray looks at the questions that ‘The Tall Man’ throws up to any independent minded person about the events on Palm Island Qld in 2004. Here is a brief synopsis of Chloe Hooper’s book that has become a doco — > (The Tall Man Synopsis ) The Tall Man was filmed by]

i have just taken the opportunity of again watching the tall man shown on sbs tv last sunday evening. it left me just as disturbed as the other viewings that i had. it most certainly has left me as disturbed as i was when following the case from the start to the unfinished business through the medium of the isja newsletters. (see ).

any viewing of this excellent documentary can only leave one with the clear understanding that hurley was responsible for the killing of mulrunji and, further, that all police involved, including the union executives, colluded in the conspiracy of the cover-up of that killing. the last coroner to look at the matter, coroner hines, and at the insistence of the police union to overturn the proper decision of coroner clements, stated that there was too much conflicting evidence of hurley and his mates to come to any real and sensible legal finding that could find the truth of the matter.

in essence, an open finding was found. it is my understanding that such legal conclusions cannot be appealed.

but hurley was, to my mind, responsible for four deaths and not just one. the four died as a direct result of the actions taken by hurley on that november day in 2004.

the first death of course was that of mulrunji. the second was that of his mother who died of sorry-business. the third death was of the alleged suicide of eric, his son. the fourth was that of mulrunji’s friend in the cell who attempted to comfort him, patrick bramwell, who is alleged to have also suicided. hurley hopefully has all four deaths on his conscience for the rest of his life.

but hurley is not alone in his responsibility for these deaths. others, as a matter of course, are also involved. the queensland police who supported hurley also carry a share of the charges of conspiracy laid on the police. the disgusting spectacle of blind ignorance by all ranks of the qld. police, from commissioner atkinson down to the newest recruit, clearly shows the ‘police culture’ in action. some police knew that hurley killed mulrunji whilst the others cared not one whit whether he did or not. we all know that there are individual honest coppers but that is not the argument. it is when those honest cops unite to protect the corrupt police that tars them with the same social brush.

those officers on palm island carry the most weight of conspiracy and corruption when it comes to covering up hurley’s criminal action. their collusion was so arrogant that it was mentioned by both coroners clements and hines. all told lies and changed their statements many times to protect their mate. as did hurley of course. hurley was allowed to read and/or listen to the evidence being given by the palm island community and others and continually changed his story to meet the facts given to advance his protection from any charges being laid. but one name stands out as being very worthy of closer scrutiny and examination.

and that is hurley’s good friend, detective darren robinson who was shown legally to have acted corruptly the better to protect his good mate, hurley, on previous occasions. we will return to robinson later.

i believe that blame for the later three deaths must also be shared by both the medical services on palm island and the qld. beattie government. neither of these authorities apparently offered appropriate services to the doomadgee family or to patrick bramwell. it is common practice by the police forces nationally and their respective governments to not offer proper grief counselling to the family or friends of the deceased. the police are well served by counsellors during these times but not the families of the deceased. they are left to live with the sorry-business as best they can. i believe that mulrunji’s mother died some 18 months after her son’s death. had she been given proper sorry-business treatment perhaps she would be alive today.

then came the alleged suicide of eric doomadgee. it is my understanding that he did not receive any assistance in his sorry-business either. murrandoo yanner correctly states in the film that one needs to be both very very angry and lost within oneself and eric’s demeanour shows this most clearly in the film. ‘i am hollow’, he states. did no one hear him? after the dpp, leanne clare, found that hurley had no case to answer despite the good decision by coroner clements. for any adult that would be hard to accept but for young eric it seems to have been the final straw. it was alleged that he hung himself but surely this hypothesis must be tested by a coroner. it cannot be merely assumed that he hung himself without other possible mitigating factors being investigated. who was the last person to have spoken to him? what was said by that person?

was that person a community person or, possibly, even a police officer sneering that hurley was free? was it det. robinson? i do not know but someone does. we need to find the facts of this death.

did eric know that sir anthony street was coming to palm island to adjudge whether hurley should be cleared by the dpp or whether he should face court? sadly eric died the night before the morning of justice street’s arrival on palm island. we need to know all the facts of this human tragedy of a young person losing his life. the powers that be, however, in qld. seem to be happier doing nothing. we must call for a full enquiry into the full circumstances of this death. we must ask why?

another alleged suicide that we must also question is that of patrick bramwell who shared the cell with mulrunji on the day he died of the horrific injuries brought on by hurley’s violence towards him. the trauma suffered by patrick can be gauged by his initial denial that he was even in the cell with mulrunji when he died. the nearness of death is extremely problamatic for our people. no assistance was given to him to get him through this bad time. again, why not? there is evidence that was raised in the clements inquest that stated that the last person to knowingly talk to patrick was hurley’s good mate, det. robinson. again, we must ask what did robinson say to patrick on the short drive that they took together? what role did robinson play in the alleged suicide by hanging?

is this yet another death in custody that has gone unreported? are we expected to just accept that patrick’s death does not count, that it means nothing because a police officer could be involved, a friend, indeed a good friend known to be detective darren robinson? why is no one in authority seeking answers to these questions?

two alleged suicides. a son and a friend. no assistance for their sorry-business. left to the bastardry and vagaries of the police over the years.

hurley was a violent man, he had a dark side, as yanner honestly described. hurley’s complaint record was not brought into court because the police union objected to that happening.

hurley and the police union did not get the clement’s decision overturned but hurley walked free and is still a practicing cop today as an inspector. every time cops get away with a killing the normal thing is they get promoted.

we can only wait for that day when an honest cop can no longer be suffocated by the culture and comes forward and breaks it and in that breaking perhaps putting an end to it. thugs and killers have no place in the police forces we citizens pay for and they must be removed. it is our responsibility to expect and demand an honest force.

where is justice?

below are several reports that some may find of interest.

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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

CMC review of QPS Palm Island review

On 19 November 2004, Mulrunji died in police custody on Palm Island. In the findings of the inquest (delivered in September 2006), Acting State Coroner Christine Clements was critical of the initial QPS investigation of the death and of various aspects of policing on Palm Island. In addition to general critical comments about arrest and policing, she made fourteen comments specifically about the investigation of Mulrunjis death.

In December 2006, the Commissioner of Police formed an Investigation Review Team to examine in detail any criticisms of the QPS or its members arising from the inquest and the findings; he also requested the CMC to review this internal investigation. In November 2008 the QPS delivered its three-volume report, entitled Palm Island Review, to the CMC.

In June 2010 the CMC tabled its report into the police investigations, in which it identified serious flaws in the investigations and recommended that the QPS consider disciplinary action for misconduct against the officers involved.

In January 2011 QPS Deputy Commissioner Kathy Rynders advised the CMC that she would not initiate disciplinary proceedings against the officers. Under existing legislation, the CMC was unable to seek independent review of this decision by the Queensland Administrative Review Tribunal. On 15 March CMC Chairperson Martin Moynihan QC AO issued a public response to DC Rynders report.

As a result of the Palm Island death in custody and the subsequent investigations by the QPS, the CMC has sought changes to its powers relating to decisions made by the QPS about police misconduct matters.

Palm Island and police misconduct

At about the same time as the finalisation of the Palm Island matter, other issues relating to police-related deaths and to the police discipline system were also under review.

Related documents and links


CMC Review of the Queensland Police Service’s Palm Island Review( )Response to DC Rynders’ report: Letter to Commissioner of Police, Mr Robert Atkinson ( ) (PDF, 315KB) (14 March 2011)

Media releases and statements

Chairperson’s statement on the CMC’s review of the QPS Palm Island Review( ) (17 June 2010) Media release: CMC directs Police Commissioner to take action( ) (17 June 2010)Chairperson’s press conference( ) (15 March 2011) (audio)Chairperson’s statement( ) (15 March 2011)Media release: QPS takes no disciplinary action against Palm Island officers( ) (15 March 2011)

Related links (Palm Island)

Review of QPS discipline decisions in QCAT( )Findings of Deputy Chief Magistrate, Brian Hine: Inquest into the death of Mulrunji( ) (May 2010)

Related links (police misconduct)

Government response to the independent review of the Queensland police complaints, discipline and misconduct system( ) (PDF, 265 KB)

See also

Last updated: 19 December 2011

Investigations in 2010-11

We conducted 96 investigations into 280 allegations involving official misconduct and/or police misconduct by members of the QPS. The two most common types of allegations investigated were control of information, and corruption and favouritism.

Misconduct statistics

We regularly collect statistical information ( ) about complaints of misconduct by the police and public sector officers.

Last reviewed 28 June 2010 Last updated 29 June 2010

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

One thought on “The Tall Man

  1. Christine Cole says:

    Thank you all for providing this information. It is so important and so relevant. This matter of Aboriginal Deaths in Custody needs to stop NOW!!!!

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