Extra police are on standby to quell potential violence on Palm
Island after Queensland's chief prosecutor decided not to lay
charges against a policeman blamed over a death in custody.
Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Leanne Clare today said
charges would not be laid against Senior Sergeant Chris Hurley.
In September, deputy state coroner Christine Clements found Snr
Sgt Hurley struck Mulrunji Doomadgee, 36, and caused his fatal
injuries on November 19, 2004, at the police station on Palm
Island, off Townsville.
But Ms Clare said the death had been due to a "complicated fall"
and was a "terrible accident".
The island erupted into riots on November 26, 2004, after an
autopsy found Mulrunji suffered four broken ribs, a ruptured liver
and a ruptured portal vein in a watchhouse scuffle.
The police station, courthouse and the home of the officer in
charge were set alight during the riots.
Townsville-based Aboriginal activist Gracelyn Smallwood said the
DPP's decision was another slap in the face for indigenous
"It was very clear in the coroner's report that our brother was
murdered," said Ms Smallwood, who has called for a national day of
action next week.
"What's going to happen to our warriors who burnt the police
station down now - are they going to go to jail for life? We've
been putting up with this for the last 216 years."
Police Minister Judy Spence called for calm as she confirmed
extra police had been brought into Townsville and would stay there
for several days.
But she said no extra police had joined the 18 already stationed
on Palm Island.
While the Crime and Misconduct Commission said it had found
there was insufficient evidence to justify disciplinary action
against Snr Sgt Hurley, Ms Spence said the police ethical standards
command would now conduct its own probe.
The investigation, overseen by Assistant Commissioner Dick
Conder, would look at whether Mulrunji was given appropriate first
aid once he was arrested, the quality of the initial police
investigation and whether police procedures were followed.
"I'm not going to prejudge the findings of those
investigations," Ms Spence said.
"I think today is a time for calm. We have to accept the DPP,
who is an independent person, has made certain findings that won't
please everyone and let the next process take its course."
Mulrunji's sister Valmai Aplin said she was devastated by the
decision not to charge Snr Sgt Hurley.
"I felt like my heart was ripped apart - like they just ripped
my heart open," Ms Aplin told AAP on Palm Island.
"I wanted to hear that he was guilty and should be charged with
Premier Peter Beattie said it was time for the community to move
"What's important here is we build for the future and we are
endeavouring to work with the Palm Island community," Mr Beattie
Queensland Police Union vice president Denis Fitzpatrick said
the union had always believed in Snr Sgt Hurley's innocence.
Mr Fitzpatrick said the past two years had been a "very
stressful time" for Snr Sgt Hurley and his family.
"It'd be hoped now that they would be able to get on with their
lives," he said.
Mr Hurley, who will return to non-operational duties soon, was
unavailable for comment today.
Ms Clare said Mulrunji died from internal injuries caused "by a
crushing force to the front of his abdomen" when he and Snr Sgt
Hurley fell together through the open door of the police
She said autopsy results showed neither kicks nor punches caused
"On the evidence, the fall is the only satisfactory explanation
for the injuries identified by the doctors," Ms Clare said.
"In other words, the admissible evidence suggests that Mr
Doomadgee's death was a terrible accident."
Ms Clare flew to Townsville to explain the decision to