Politics

The Family Of An Aboriginal Man Killed In Custody Is Standing With US Protestors

David Dungay told NSW prison guards "I can't breathe" 12 times while being restrained.

deaths in custody

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As protests erupt across the US over the death of George Floyd, the family of an Aboriginal man who died after being restrained by five prison guards are pushing for charges to be laid over his death.

David Dungay, a 26-year-old Dunghutti man, was in custody at NSW’s Long Bay jail in 2015 when he died.

He was in the hospital jail when guards stormed in after he refused to stop eating a pack of biscuits. He had diabetes, and was schizophrenic.

He was dragged to another cell, held down and injected with a sedative by a nurse.

He told the officers who had pinned him facedown “I can’t breathe” 12 times before losing consciousness.

Footage captured one officer telling him, “you brought this upon yourself, Dungay”.

David’s family said footage of George Floyd’s death at the hands of police had been traumatising for them.

They want the NSW director of public prosecution to investigate whether changes should be laid against the prison guards involved. They also intend to lodge a complaint against the nursing staff involved.

Last year an inquest into David’s death found none of the guards should face disciplinary action.

NSW Deputy Coroner Derek Lee found their conduct was “not motivated by malicious intent”, but was “a produced of misunderstanding”.

However, he also found moving David to another cell was not necessary or appropriate, as he “did not pose a security risk”.

Paul Silva, David’s nephew, told Guardian Australia he tried to watch the viral footage showing George Floyd’s last moments, but had to stop the video when he heard him say “I can’t breathe”.

“My thoughts really go out to the family and everyone on the streets in the USA. My solidarity is with them because I do know the pain they are feeling,” he said.

“And as for the Aboriginal deaths in our backyard … it’s not in the public as much as it should be.”

The NSW Safework Commission has rejected the Dungay family’s request for an investigation into David’s death because the coroner had already made recommendations into how to fix “organisational failures” of the Corrective Services.

Australia has seen 432 Aboriginal deaths in custody since 2008.

You can donate to the Dungay family’s fundraiser, Justice For David Dungay Junior, here.


Feature Image: Pxfuel