The cover up of Doomadgee killing - CMC Report due soon

SEE: New Palm Island inquest offers no closure Jeff Waters | ABC (The Drum) | 14th May 2010
Collusion concerns in Doomadgee case | ABC News | 14th May 2010

Jim McIlroy & Dale Mills Green Left Sunday, May 9, 2010

Doomadgee Rally 2006
Doomadgee Rally 2006

Senior Queensland police officers have been accused of using improper methods to cover up for fellow police officers when investigating the death of 36-year-old Palm Island man Mulrunji Doomadgee in 2004.

A coroner has described Doomadgee's November 2004 arrest for intoxication as "not an appropriate exercise of police discretion". Within an hour of the arrest by Senior Sergeant Chris Hurley, Doomadgee had died from blows to his body which almost split his liver in two.

Hurley denied any wrongdoing and was acquitted of manslaughter by an all-white jury in 2007. He was awarded $100,000 for property damaged during the three days of rioting that followed Doomadgee's death. He continues to work as a police officer on the Gold Coast.

The accusations of cover up are made in a report by the Queensland Crime and Misconduct Commission (CMC). The May 6 Courier Mail said the report, due to be made public in late May, will recommend disciplinary action against at least nine serving police officers.

"The leaked findings of this draft report are way overdue", Indigenous community leader and Socialist Alliance Senate candidate Sam Watson told Green Left Weekly.

"The killing of Mulrunji occurred nearly six years ago. This long-promised CMC report is finally due to be released in a month. Meanwhile, on May 14, coroner [Brian] Hines is set to bring down his findings in the third coronial hearing into this tragic case.

"What I personally saw when I attended the coronial hearing in Townsville last month was that on the basis of the material presented in the case, the coroner would have sufficient evidence to recommend charging certain police with criminal conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. Criminal charges should be laid.

"Unfortunately, it seems likely the Hines findings will be fairly tame, and the CMC will only recommend the lightest options for disciplining the police involved. If the media reports of the CMC findings are accurate, it shows a number of senior police officers were involved in a very serious cover-up of the death of Mulrunji."

The current coronial hearing is a high-risk strategy for Hurley, who is trying to overturn an earlier coronial finding that he probably caused Domadgee's death. His legal costs are being paid for by the Queensland Police Union.

"The whole Queensland judicial structure is compromised by the power of the Queensland Police Union", Watson said. "I have no confidence that [Anna Bligh's ALP] government will aggressively pursue any recommendations to bring criminal charges against police.

"We need to mount a political campaign to demand the immediate sacking of Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson. He presided over the whole sorry matter of the Murunji investigation during this time.

"We should call for an immediate picket of police headquarters when the findings are released. The Queensland Police Service is the bully boy of the state, intimidating government and the criminal justice system.

"The Queensland people need to be reminded of the Mulrunji case. The only way Aboriginal deaths in custody will stop is if police involved are charged and convicted."

Police Union wants report leak probe

Evan Schwarten AAP/SMH May 10, 2010

Click to enlarge

Palm Island

The Queensland Police Union is demanding an investigation into the alleged leaking of a confidential Crime and Misconduct Commission report.

The Courier Mail and Australian newspapers last week published details, including key recommendations, of a CMC report into the police handling of the investigation into the 2004 death in custody of Cameron Doomadgee.

Under secrecy provisions in the CMC Act 2001, the maximum penalty for those involved in disclosing confidential information is a year in jail.

Queensland Police Union President Ian Leavers says the crime watchdog appears reluctant to investigate the matter.

He says the union has referred the matter to the Parliamentary Crime and Misconduct Committee, which overseas the CMC, for investigation.

"The CMC appears reluctant to investigate this leak even though on face value it appears to be a breach of section 213 of their act," he said.

"It is not good for there to be a serious leak in breach of an act of parliament and for the CMC to throw its hands in the air and say 'we're not going to investigate'."

The newspapers last week indicated the soon to be released CMC report would be critical of the police handling of the investigation into Mr Doomadgee's death.

Disciplinary action would be recommended against seven officers, they said ...

Police officers face disciplinary action over botched probe

Peter Michael The Courier-Mail May 06, 2010

Senior Sergeant Chris Hurley - Mulrunji Doomadgee inset
Senior Sergeant Chris Hurley
Mulrunji Doomadgee (inset)

Top Queensland police have been accused of protecting their own while investigating the Mulrunji death in custody.

A soon-to-be released Crime and Misconduct Commission report is understood to name at least nine serving officers and recommends at least seven face official misconduct charges and disciplinary action over the police handling of the 2004 Palm Island death.

The report claims the people of Palm Island, the wider indigenous community and the "public generally" have been let down. And it is set to be particularly critical of the apparent failure of investigating officers to be seen as impartial.

The CMC is understood to have found the investigation into the death of Doomadgee, also known as Mulrunji, was seriously flawed and its integrity gravely compromised in the eyes of the community ...

... Sen-Sgt Chris Hurley was tried and acquitted of the manslaughter of Mulrunji in 2007, admitting that his knee may have come into contact with Mulrunji's stomach in a complicated fall ...

... The long-awaited report, which explores the initial police investigation and subsequent internal investigation, is due to be released next week after Deputy Chief Magistrate Brian Hine hands down the findings of a third coronial inquiry into Doomadgee's death.

It has accused the Ethical Standards Command officers of running a biased investigation to protect other police.

It is alleged that witnesses were guided in their answers in interviews, with some provided in advance with copies of the questions they were to be asked.

A further allegation is that some key witnesses were not even interviewed by the officers, privately described by Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson as among his "most respected".

The Queensland Police Commissioned Officers Union is considering legal action to stop publication of the report.

The report is set to attack police "double standards" and the apparent culture of officers protecting other police.

Mr Atkinson will be urged to act immediately to restore public trust in the police service opening the way for a royal commission.

It is understood the harshest criticism is reserved for officers who headed the investigation into police.

It is expected to suggest high-ranking officers escape criminal charges but be fined, demoted, or dismissed.

The CMC believes officers protected other police from blame. Four officers are believed to be facing disciplinary action for official misconduct over the initial Palm Island investigation.

Three other senior officers are slated for management action.

Another two officers are likely to face disciplinary action for negligence in failing to conduct a thorough and impartial investigation of the initial QPS investigation.

A CMC spokeswoman said the QPS had had until April 30 to provide feedback to the draft report under the procedural fairness process.

She said all relevant affected parties had provided feedback, and the final report was expected to be publicly released within the next month.

with Michael McKenna and Tony Koch of The Australian

Mulrunji Doomadgee report leak illegal, police claim

Michael McKenna and Tony Koch The Australian May 07, 2010

Queensland's police service has branded illegal the leaking of a bombshell report into the Mulrunji Doomadgee death in custody affair, further straining fraught relations with the state's Crime and Misconduct Commission.

Police said last night the partial leaking of findings of a draft CMC report, recommending disciplinary action against some of Queensland's top police, had breached the secrecy provisions of the corruption watchdog.

Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson is understood to have opposed the publication of the report, due to be released later this month after the handing down of findings from the inquest into Doomadgee's death in the Palm Island watch-house in 2004.

Senior Sergeant Chris Hurley was charged and acquitted in 2007 of Doomadgee's manslaughter.

As revealed by The Australian last year, the CMC has slammed a police culture of "protecting their own" and demanded Mr Atkinson reform the service.

It has also emerged that one of the officers who led the initial death in custody investigation - attacked by Deputy State Coroner Christine Clements in 2006 as "lacking transparency, objectivity and independence" - is likely to escape punishment. Sergeant Darren Robinson, one of four officers from the original investigation who the CMC has recommended face disciplinary action, took stress leave last year and is understood to be seeking retirement on full benefits.

The Australian revealed yesterday the CMC has also recommended two senior officers, handpicked by Mr Atkinson to review the discredited investigation, face disciplinary charges.

A draft CMC report has accused Ethical Standards Command officers of running a biased investigation to protect police.

It is alleged that witnesses were guided in their answers in interviews, with some provided in advance with copies of the questions they were to be asked.

A further allegation is that some key witnesses were not even interviewed by the officers.

The CMC declined to comment yesterday.

Queensland police said they were unable to comment and took a swipe over the leak, adding: "Whilst clearly that has been breached by parties unknown to us, the QPS is still bound by . . . the Crime and Misconduct Act".

Acting Premier Paul Lucas would not comment on the report but offered his support to Mr Atkinson.