All was calm on Palm Island despite news a police officer blamed
over the death in custody of a local man had escaped
Residents rioted two years ago in the aftermath of the death at
the local police station of 36-year-old Mulrunji Doomadgee.
The isolated Aboriginal community's town square was surprisingly
empty today as residents digested the decision that Senior Sergeant
Chris Hurley would not face criminal charges over Mulrunji's
Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Leanne Clare today said
charges would not be laid against Snr Sgt Hurley.
In September, deputy state coroner Christine Clements found Snr
Sgt Hurley struck Mulrunji and caused his fatal injuries on
November 19, 2004, at the police station on Palm Island, off
But today Ms Clare said the death had been due to a "complicated
fall" and the evidence could not prove Snr Sgt Hurley was
criminally responsible for Mulrunji's death.
On Palm Island, people stayed in doors, well out of the media
spotlight that had once again invaded their island.
Children frolicked in the pristine clear water, oblivious to
what had just happened, or what might still happen.
There was also no sign of a police presence despite claims by
residents that houses were raided by officers last night.
Acting Mayor Zac Sam said he expected police to bolster their
presence on the island in the next few days despite the current
Mr Sam said there was a lot of anger among the island's younger
population over the Director of Public Prosecution's decision.
"There are a lot of young people upset but we can't be there all
the time if they want to do something," he said.
Mulrunji's sisters, Valmai Aplin and Claudelle Doomadgee, broke
down in tears as they recounted the heartache of being told by DPP
head Leanne Clare that Snr Sgt Hurley would not face
"I just felt broken," Ms Doomadgee said.
"He (Mulrunji) was my little brother."
Ms Aplin, Mulrunji's partner Tracey Twaddle and good friend
David Bulsey joined five other family members prior to the public
announcement to hear Ms Clare's findings in a private sitting.
A "disgusted" Mr Bulsey said he walked out of the meeting while
Mulrunji's sister and partner burst into tears.
"I felt like my heart was ripped apart," Ms Aplin said.
"I just sat there and cried. I couldn't believe it."
The decision has thrown this weekend's mayoral election on the
island into disarray. Community members are to chose between six
candidates for the vacant mayoralty.
Alleged riot ring leader Lex Wotton is one of the