Reimagining Policing

Australian Human Rights Center
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Human Rights Defender, 2016, 25 (3), pp. 26 - 28 (2)
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19 November 2004 began like any other day for Palm Island police officer, Senior Sergeant James Hurley and Aboriginal Police Liaison Officer, Lloyd Bengaroo. The two officers had received a complaint from a local woman about a family violence situation involving a woman and her grandson, and were now tracking down the young man in question. Eventually, upon locating the young man, Senior Sergeant Hurley proceeded to make an arrest. In the process of doing so, Mulrunji Doomadgee, a local Palm Islander in his mid-thirties, happened to be walking by and oversaw the scene. Doomadgee questioned Bengaroo, "what are you doing locking up your own people?" Sergeant Hurley, having overheard the comments, pursued Doomadgee and proceeded to arrest him as well. Doomadgee was charged with offensive language and intoxication in a public place. Approximately 40 minutes later, Doomadgee died in police custody. Doomadgee had sustained trauma injuries to his liver and portal vein- injuries which Coroner Clements found were caused by Sergeant Hurley. A week later a riot broke out on Palm Island. Both the local police station and the courthouse were set alight, and Bengaroo was ousted from the Palm Island Aboriginal community.
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