Mulrunji Doomadgee, a fit, healthy, 36-year-old man, died in police custody on Palm Island on 19 November 2004 following his arrest by Senior Sergeant Chris Hurley on a charge of “public nuisance”. Yet Queensland DPP Leanne Clare has described the death as “a terrible accident’ caused by a ‘complicated fall’.

A coronial inquest conducted by Queensland’s Acting State Coroner, Christine Clements, found that that Mulrunji died due to ‘blood loss caused by rupture of the liver consequent upon blunt compressive force to the upper abdomen.’ Clements found that the initial arrest was ‘not an appropriate exercise of police discretion’.

Forensic pathologist Dr Guy Lampe performed an autopsy on Mulrunji’s body at Cairns’ Base Hospital mortuary on 23 November 2004 and found that the deceased’s liver was “almost cleaved in two”. The right side of his rib-cage showed fractures of four ribs “from the sixth to the ninth inclusively”.

Peter Fray

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