Ms Dhu endured 'inhumane treatment' by police before death in custody – coroner

  • Coroner finds medical care for Indigenous WA woman was ‘deficient’
  • ‘Profoundly disturbing’ CCTV footage of last hours to be released

The Indigenous woman Ms Dhu was subjected to “unprofessional and inhumane” treatment by Western Australian police that was “well below the standards that should ordinarily be expected” before her death in custody in 2014.

The coroner Ros Fogliani released CCTV footage of Dhu’s time in custody, save for a final scene that showed her very close to death at hospital. Fogliani said the footage was “profoundly disturbing”.

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Ms Dhu's inquest shines spotlight on failures but will it prompt change?

Coroner catalogues ‘unprofessional and inhumane’ treatment but stops short of apportioning blame for individual or systemic disregard shown to Dhu

On page 88 of the findings on the death in custody of Indigenous woman Ms Dhu, coroner Ros Fogliani explains that it is not possible to “gently” drag a prisoner across the floor.

“The act of dragging a person across a floor has no gentle aspect whatsoever,” she wrote. “Detainees who are incapacitated, or who appear to be incapacitated, such as Ms Dhu, are not to be dragged along the floor. It is particularly inappropriate to do so where medical assistance is being sought.”

It’s an extraordinary statement – not for its message, which is surely uncontroversial, but because it needed saying at all.

Yet at 12.33pm on 4 August 2014, having slipped into septic shock some hours earlier and being unable to stand, 22-year-old Dhu was dragged and then carried from her cell to the police van for what would transpire to be her last visit to hospital. One of the police officers responsible, who had also handcuffed her under the “inexplicable” belief that the incapacitated, dying woman was a flight risk, had offered in his defence that he had tried to drag her “gently”.

Read the rest of the story at The Guardian