Tanya Day: Aboriginal death in custody decision 'devastates' relatives

image copyrightVictorian Government

Relatives of an Aboriginal woman who died in Australian police custody say they are “devastated and angry” that no officer will face prosecution.

Tanya Day fell and hit her head in a cell in 2017 after being arrested for drunkenness. She was left fatally injured on a floor for three hours.

Police said they had decided not to pursue charges against officers over the high-profile case in Victoria.

Aboriginal deaths in custody have sparked large protests nationally.

In April, a coroner found that Ms Day’s death in the town of Castlemaine had been “clearly preventable” and that “an indictable offence may have been committed”.

But Victoria Police said prosecutors had advised against laying charges. No further explanation was given.

Ms Day’s family criticised that decision as unjust, arguing the investigation had been “flawed and lacked independence”.

“This is wrong and speaks volumes about systemic racism and police impunity in this country,” they said in a statement on Thursday.

“Aboriginal people will keep dying in custody until the legal system changes and police are held accountable.”

They added: “In the last 30 years, hundreds of Aboriginal people like our mum have died at the hands of the police, yet no police officer has ever been held criminally responsible.”

A protests holds a placard with Aboriginal flag which says: "Same story, different soil"

image copyrightGetty Images

Victoria Police said in a statement it took “any death in police care or custody very seriously”.

“Victoria Police acknowledges the loss and suffering experienced by Ms Day’s family,” it said in a statement.

The issue of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander deaths in custody has taken on added scrutiny this year due to the Black Lives Matter movement. There have been large protests around Australia.

Indigenous people are disproportionately jailed, comprising almost 30% of Australian inmates despite making up about 3% of the population.

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