Australia

David Dungay inquest: Final moments before death in custody shown in court

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An inquest into the death of a NSW prison hospital inmate has begun, with video played in court of prison officers restraining him until he became unresponsive.

Almost all of the Corrective Services NSW officers who were restraining an inmate in a prison hospital when he became unresponsive and later died had no training or knowledge of the risks of positional asphyxia, an inquest has heard.

The two-week inquest into the death of Aboriginal man and Type 1 diabetic David Dungay, 26, at Long Bay Hospital in December 2015 began before Deputy State Coroner Derek Lee at Sydney's Downing Centre on Monday.

Counsel assisting the coroner, Jason Downing, said Mr Dungay was in the prison hospital ward as he "had been assessed as a mentally ill person" and also required daily injections of insulin.

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Footage shown at the inquest into the death of Aboriginal man David Dungay at Long Bay jail

'I want justice for my son': David Dungay death in custody inquest begins

Mr Dungay twice spent time in the exercise yard on the day of his death, during which he ate "what appeared to be some crackers" and grabbed another packet of biscuits, believed to be rice crackers, on his way back to his cell in the afternoon.

At about midday, and again at 2pm, he was recorded as having a high blood sugar level but was considered "asymptomatic" by a nurse, the court heard.

It remains unclear who asked Mr Dungay to not take the biscuits into his cell because the additional food may have an adverse effect on him, Mr Downing said.

But when he was asked to hand them over, it appears he "began to stuff them" into his mouth, he said.

Two prison officers responded and asked the six-member Immediate Action Team to help move Mr Dungay to a different cell with a camera in it.

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Black Lives Matter leader shows support for David Dungay's family

The court was played footage showing Mr Dungay being transferred to the cell where he was administered an intramuscular injection, or sedative.

He is restrained by at least five IAT officers in the prone position, or facedown on a cell bed, spits blood and repeatedly screams "I can't breathe" to which one officer replies: "You're talking, you can breathe".

Mr Dungay became unresponsive, went "limp" and vomited, and could not be resuscitated, Mr Downing said.

"I anticipate that the evidence will indicate that five of the six IAT members had not undertaken any training in respect of positional asphyxia risk and had no effective knowledge of it," he said.

Family and friends of David Dungay gathered outside the court. 

US rights movement Black Matter Lives voiced their support for Mr Dungay's family outside the court. 

Hawk Newsome, president of the activist group in Greater New York, travelled from the US to attend the start of the two-week coronial inquest.

"It’s the same story, different soil. From Long Bay to the USA. His name was David Dungay. His name was Eric Gardner," he told reporters outside Downing Centre court on Monday.

"It’s all the same. It’s black faces. It’s black tears. It’s the same excuses from those blue uniforms."

"Your pain is my pain."

The inquest continues.

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