Australia

Aboriginal volunteer disputes police claims she wouldn’t collect Tanya Day from cells

Tanya Day passed away in December 2017 after being arrested for public drunkenness Source: Supplied

An Aboriginal justice volunteer denies Victoria Police claims she wouldn't collect intoxicated grandmother Tanya Day because she didn't know her.

The Aboriginal Community Justice Panel worker who was contacted after Aunty Tanya Day's arrest has disputed Victoria Police's version of events regarding their conversation on the day.

Aboriginal Community Justice Panel (ACJP) volunteer Sandra Owen has disputed Victoria Police’s account of a conversation between herself and Senior Constable Matthew Fitzgibbon.

Tanya Day, 55, died from a brain haemorrhage in December 2017.  Police have released CCTV images of her final movements in a police station.

Senior Constable Fitzgibbon, who is also a Police Aboriginal Liaison Officer, took the stand yesterday saying he followed procedure by calling the ACJP, but that they responded by saying they didn’t know Ms Day and weren't coming to pick her up.

On Friday, Ms Owen appeared via video link, saying she had been at her regular job as a Project Manager at the Bendigo District Aboriginal Co-operative.

 “That’s not why I said what I said at all. In the communication, he asked me if she was known to me, and I said no, I didn’t know her, but that didn’t mean that we weren’t going to support her. I gave him a rationale of why we weren’t attending," she said.

Aunty Tanya Day

Ms Owen instead found out later that Ms Day had died in custody.

She also told the court that she feels that in her experience Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are targeted by the police when using public transport.

Because of this suspected discrimination, the Bendigo ACJP now have a database to track officers who arrest Indigenous people "to see if there is a bit of a pattern".

While Coroner Caitlin English has released CCTV footage of Ms Day's time at the station, week the court is expected to see vision of Ms Day after being left alone in the cell.

It reportedly shows Ms Day falling and hitting her head 5 times. Once seen, Coroner English will make a decision on whether or not the footage will be released to the public.

NITV News has approached the ACJP via the Koori Justice Unit for comment.

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