Police forced to apologise for death in custody

November 23, 2013

Victoria police have apologised to the family of a man who died hours after being released from police custody in 2010.

The Age reported on November 20: "Deputy Commissioner Tim Cartwright, who is responsible for all people in police custody across the state, said officers at Dandenong police station had fallen well short of community expectations on how they treated Gong Ling Tang on May 12, 2010.

"We have an obligation to care for every person in our custody and we have an obligation to treat every person with respect and dignity. On what I have seen, we fell well short of the standards expected in terms of both the care we showed and the respect and dignity we provided.

 "An inquest began this week into the incident where Tang was arrested for public drunkenness and for a suspected breach of an intervention order and spent about four and a half hours in a police cell. During that time he complained of abdominal pain and was seen rolling on the floor of his cell."

An interpreter who was called to the Dandenong police station to help question a Chinese man aged in his 50's gave testimony that the man “was bleeding, had soiled himself and crawled from his cell like a dog". The interpreter said police initially refused to get the man medical help.

Tang had been admitted to hospital four or five times in the three years before his death because of the state of his liver.
The Age reported in August 2010 that "video footage from outside the station shows about five police dumping the visibly ill man in a puddle upon his release while the temperature was about 12 degrees and raining. It shows the officers standing over the man laughing and gloating about the state he was in and some policewomen can also be seen holding their noses because of the stench caused by the man soiling himself while in custody."

The inquest continues in Melbourne.

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