Media release January 8 2013 for immediate release
Briscoe family condemns NT prosecutor decision on anniversary of Briscoe death
The family of Kwementyaye Briscoe have condemned a recent decision by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) in the NT not to investigate potential criminal charges against the police officers responsible for Mr Briscoe’s death.
The decision to take no further action was made close to the anniversary of Mr Briscoe’s death in custody in the Alice Springs watch house on 4 January 2012.
On the advice of prominent barrister Greg Barnes, Shine Lawyers wrote to the DPP in December 2012, outlining potential charges which could be laid against some of the police officer/s involved in the death of Mr Briscoe including potential manslaughter and “failure to rescue” offenses.
NT DPP Director Richard Coates has responded to Shine Lawyers by ruling out any investigation, citing the Coroner’s failure to recommend charges as the reason the matter will not be pursued.
George Newhouse, the head of Shine Lawyers Social Justice Team says the lack of action by the DPP highlights fundamental flaws in the justice system when it comes to dealing with Aboriginal people.
“Despite the considered opinion of a prominent barrister, clear evidence of gross violations of duty of care leading to Mr Briscoe’s death, and an outpouring of public calls for action by the NT DPP; the DPP has not even given the family of Mr Briscoe the courtesy of an investigation into the culpability of those police officers involved in Kwementyaye’s death.”
“Relying on the findings of the Coroner is not good enough. The Coroner did not consider charges of manslaughter or failure to rescue in his determination; the family believe that these charges should be investigated further by the DPP”.
“We will continue to fight for justice for the Briscoe family and remain committed to investigating all avenues where they may be some redress”, concluded Mr Newhouse.
Patricia Morton-Thomas, spokesperson for the Briscoe family said:
“My family has been grieving this tragic death for a year now, calling for charges, and in all that time the prosecutors office haven’t even seriously investigated the issue of criminal liability.”
“We have had an outpouring of support from across Australia, with 31,000 people signing an online petition calling for charges to be laid against police”.
“But the prosecutor here in Alice Springs over that time, Nanette Rogers, had a prejudice against Aboriginal men. She tars them all with the same brush, with the stereotype of violence and abuse.”
“Police thought my nephews life was so worthless, they assaulted him then left him to die. Now we learn the prosecutors office thinks it is also worthless, not even granting us an investigation into the serious legal issues raised by our barrister”, concluded Ms Morton-Thomas.
For comment contact:
Patricia Morton-Thomas 0432 612 105
George Newhouse 0422 255 109