WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers are warned that the following content may contain images and voices of deceased persons.
- Treatment of Ms Dhu at police lock-up, hospital criticised by coroner
- Recommendations include scrapping of jail terms for the non-payment of fines
- Family dismisses coroner’s findings, says nobody has been held accountable
The West Australian coroner has ruled the treatment of Aboriginal woman Ms Dhu by police officers was “unprofessional and inhumane” prior to her death, and has agreed to release CCTV footage of her last hours in custody.
Coroner Ros Fogliani also ruled Ms Dhu’s death in custody could have been avoided if her infection had been diagnosed and treated.
Ms Dhu, whose first name is not used for cultural reasons, died after being taken to Hedland Health Campus (HHC) on August 4, 2014 while being held at South Hedland Police Station.
She was taken into custody two days earlier because she had not paid $3,622 in fines.
Ms Dhu was taken to hospital by police officers three times within 48 hours after complaining of feeling unwell and being in pain, and died on the third trip.
An autopsy found she died of septicaemia and pneumonia caused by an infection from a broken rib.
Ms Fogliani issued a scathing assessment of the treatment of Ms Dhu by police, saying she had suffered a catastrophic deterioration while in the care of officers and health workers.
“I have concluded that Ms Dhu’s supervision, treatment and care at the lock-up, particularly on 4 August 2014, fell well below the standards that should ordinarily be expected of the Western Australia Police Service,” she said.
— Nicolas Perpitch (@NicPerpitch) December 16, 2016