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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Doomadgee's Murder Goes Unpunished

Queensland police from the ‘deep north’ are a law unto themselves. They protected an officer who caused fatal injuries to an Aboriginal man in custody on Palm Island in November 2004. Sergeant Hurley beat him so badly, he cut his liver in half and busted the portal vein in his abdominal cavity. The Coroner, Brian Hine accepted the fatal injuries suffered by Mr Doomadgee, (known as Mulrunji) were caused by Senior Sergeant Chris Hurley but couldn’t determine if the injuries were inflicted deliberately or accidentally. Surely he must have been joking when he said the injuries could have been caused by Sen Sgt Hurley accidentally falling on top of Mr Doomadgee or by the officer "dropping a knee into his torso". He also accepted Sergeant Hurley had punched Mr Doomadgee in the face and abused him during his attempts to force him into the police station.

When it became clear that Sergeant Hurley was not going to be charged with Doomadgee’s murder, the Aboriginal community rioted and burnt down the Palm Island Watch house, the police station and Hurley’s residence. The Sergeant later received $102,955 compensation payment, even though there was an allegation that he had obtained the money dishonestly.

An investigation into Doomadgee’s death has been going on for six long years and yesterday they dropped a bombshell - the police involved and Sergeant Hurley in particular, have no reason to be disciplined. This prevents them from ever being prosecuted by the Crime and Misconduct Commission (CMC). The decision was finally made by Deputy Commissioner Kathy Rynders - who gave bravery medals to two of the six officers she was investigating - for their actions during the ensuing riot. By not taking disciplinary action against the officers, Rynders has ensured, under Queensland's often peculiar laws, that it is now impossible for the CMC to bring these men before the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

So now there is nowhere else to go, all eyes turn to Premier Anna Bligh to do something about it but she already refused to have a Royal Commission into the case, so no one is holding their breath.