Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre says police officers who assaulted an Aboriginal man in custody must be stood down

Leetona Dungay leads a protest against Black deaths in custody in Sydney on October 22. Photo: Zebedee Parkes

The Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre (TAC) said on October 25 that police officers involved in the assault of a 20-year-old Aboriginal man while he was in police custody over the previous weekend must be immediately stood down pending an independent investigation.

Nala Mansell, TAC campaign manager, said the man was taken into police custody over a minor charge — breach of bail.

He was handcuffed, thrown into a cell and “held face down while his clothes were cut from his body”. An unknown number of police and custodial officers “proceeded to brutally assault the young man, leaving him bruised and bloodied,” she said.

The young man was left lying “naked in a pool of his own blood for over 12 hours”. Mansell said his calls for medical and legal assistance were ignored by the on-duty officers.

“It wasn’t until his mother attended the police station the next morning demanding the young man be able to make a phone call and receive medical assistance that he was taken by ambulance, under police escort, to receive medical attention,” Mansell said.

The young man was held without charge from October 20 night until October 22 night when a Justice of the Peace attended his hospital bedside. He was taken back to the remand centre on October 23, where he was again strip-searched.

The TAC is demanding the government establish a full independent inquiry.

“As a result of the overwhelming number of abuses of strip search laws against Aboriginal people, an independent review is warranted,” Mansell said. “We demand the Attorney General Elise Archer appoints a retired judge to carry out a fully independent review of the horrific treatment of this young man while in police custody.”