Investigation into the death in custody of an Aboriginal man

29 November, 2010

29th November 2010

Investigation into the death in custody of an Aboriginal man

Police must ensure that its investigation into the death in custody of an Aboriginal man in northwestern New South Wales is fully transparent, the chairwoman of the New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council has warned.

44-year-old Aboriginal man Mark Mason died earlier this month after he was shot by a police officer in an altercation at Collarenebri.

Police claim they had "no other option" but to shoot Mr Mason, saying previous attempts to subdue him using capsicum spray and a Taser had failed.

But NSWALC chairwoman Bev Manton says police should wait until the investigation has been completed before making public statements based on assumptions.

 "There have already been several premature media statements made by police before the facts have been fully correlated and the investigation completed." Ms Manton said.

"One of these claims has been the conclusion that the police had exhausted all other options.

 "I find it difficult to believe police would be so forthcoming in making these sorts of statements if it hadn't been one of their own involved.

"I hope instead that the police will wait until a full, clear and transparent investigation has taken place before making claims like these."

Mrs Manton says Mr Mason's death has spurred fear and distrust within the community, who will tomorrow bury a son.

"The community is already reeling from this death, not only is there an obvious sense of loss, but also a large amount of trepidation," Mrs Manton said.

"Of course, I welcome police attempts to meet with community and elders to help them deal with this.

"But Aboriginal communities in particular have a dark history of deaths in custodies, and past cases of police investigating police have lowered our confidence in their abilities to provide a fair investigation.

"We do not want a repeat of the Palm Island tragedy, where the community has yet to receive closure over the death in custody of Marungi Doomadgee.

 "I hope this will not be replicated, and that Mr Mason's family and friends receive an answer for this tragedy.

"I call on the NSW police to assure that it conducts a proper investigation into this death.

"I also call for them to refrain from making any assumptions until the investigation comes to a close."

Mrs Manton also sent her best wishes to Mr Mason's family and friends. His funeral will be held tomorrow at Walgett.

Media contact: Chris Munro  -0438 760 242


We pay our respects to the Traditional Owners of the lands where we work as well as across the lands we travel through. We also acknowledge our Elders past, present and emerging.

Artwork Credit: Craig Cromelin, from a painting he did titled, "4 favourite fishing holes". It is a snippet of his growing years on the Lachlan River, featuring yabby, turtle, fish and family.