The federal court has heard claims of police pointing guns at Indigenous children during raids on Palm Island in 2004.
Laura Murphy-Oates

21 Sep 2015 - 4:58 PM  UPDATED 21 Sep 2015 - 6:26 PM


Natalie Ahmat: The federal court has heard claims of police pointing guns at Indigenous children during raids on Palm Island in 2004.

Judge to visit discrimination-case sites on Palm Island
A Federal Court judge will travel through the streets of Palm Island on Tuesday to visit key sites in a racial discrimination case brought against the state of Queensland and the police commissioner.

The claim came on day one of a class action hearing on the Queensland island, to determine whether the state's police were racially discriminatory in their response to an Aboriginal death in custody in 2004.

Laura Murphy-Oates has more.

Laura Murphy-Oates: It's the federal court case that's pitting an island against the Queensland state government.

The mayor says wounds are yet to heal after the 2004 riot.

Reporter: How's the community feeling about this hearing?

Alf Lacey, Mayor Palm Island Shire Council: Look I think pretty ordinary

The death in custody of Cameron Doomadgee, known as Mulrunji, in 2004, sparked an uprising, with residents burning down the police station and the home of Mulrunji's arresting officer, Chris Hurley.

The barrister for the community Chris Ronalds told the court today that during the emergency response to the riot, guns were pointed at children during early morning raids.

The court also heard that head applicant Lex Wotton, who served 20 months for inciting the riot, was tasered without warning in front of his young children.

Historian Ros Kidd says the history of violence between authorities and Palm Island residents must be taken into account in the case.

Dr Ros Kidd, historian: The behaviour of the Queensland government to Aboriginal people on communities was fairly reprehensible on many occasions. To see that happen again in the 21st century, is amazing actually.

The applicants' also allege that the investigation into Mulrinji's death was inadequate, and there was a 'lack of accountability'.

2006 - first coronial inquest
The first inquest recommended criminal charges be laid against Chris Hurley, but prosecutors said there wasn't enough evidence.

2007- Chris Hurley charged but acquitted
A review of that decision led to Mr Hurley being charged with manslaughter and assault, but he was found not guilty at trial.

2010- final inquest, and Crime and Misconduct Commission report
A final inquest found no evidence Chris Hurley intentionally inflicted the fatal injuries, but accused the police service of colluding to protect their own.

The Queensland corruption watchdog backed up those findings, stating the original investigation was 'seriously flawed'.

It recommended disciplinary action against the officers involved, but no action has been taken by the Queensland Police Service to this day.

Federal Court Judge Debbie Mortimer will consider whether the state of Queensland should pay compensation to the community, which has also requested a formal apology.

Laura Murphy-Oates, NITV News