Australia

CCTV taken hours before Tanya Day’s death in custody shown to inquest

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An Aboriginal grandmother who died after a series of falls in police custody was treated "better than equal", Victoria Police officers say.

WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers are warned that this story contains images of deceased persons. 

The first clear pictures of Aunty Tanya Day have been shown in the Victorian Coroner's Court, as the inquest into her death in custody enters its fourth day.

Tanya Day died in December 2017 after being arrested for public drunkenness

Ms Day, 55, died from a brain haemorrhage in December 2017. 

CCTV footage from the Castlemaine Police Station, north of Melbourne, shows Ms Day having her photo taken by police before her fluorescent jacket and jewellery is confiscated. 

She is then taken into a cell, where she is given pillows and a blanket and is patted down by police and left to "sober up". 

Lead Senior Constable Matthew Fitzgibbon told the court he followed procedure by calling the Aboriginal Community Justice Panel and asking for someone to attend the station. 

Tanya Day, 55, died from a brain haemorrhage in December 2017.

He said that he spoke to representative Sandra Owen, who allegedly told the officer “she didn’t know her and so she wasn’t coming". 

“We were gentle with Ms Day, we treated her with compassion… We actually tried to treat her better,” he told the court. 

“She was vulnerable, she wasn’t hurting anyone we showed her the respect she deserved." 

Before calling the Aboriginal Community Justice Panel, police contacted Ms Day's daughter Kimberley to explain the situation but she wasn't able to collect her mother.

Victorian police have released CCTV of their interaction with Ms Day, before she was found dead.
Victorian police have released CCTV of their interaction with Ms Day, before she was found dead.
Supplied

After the officer left the cell he had no further contact with Ms Day but was told she was injured when he returned for a break at the station.

"I was informed... that Ms Day had fallen and hit her head and they had checked on her and saw she had a lump on her head," Snr Const Fitzgibbon said.

Once Ms Day was taken into the police station officers did not go inside her cell until she was due to be released later that night.

The coroner is examining whether racism contributed to Ms Day's death.

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