The sister of deceased inmate Wayne Morrison is ‘gobsmacked’ at the news of her brother’s death in custody, says the news has left them ‘broken’.
Morrison was taken to the Intensive Care Unit at the Royal Adelaide Hospital on Friday with brain damage after an incident involving 5 police officers.
The dispute allegedly occurred at 11.30am that day in the prison’s admissions area, while Morrison was waiting for a scheduled court video link appearance, according to South Australian Correctional Services Chief Executive, David Brown.
Latoya Rule, the sister of the deceased inmate claims ‘he has bruises all over him’ on a Facebook post. She says the death of her brother shouldn’t be ‘just another death in custody’.
Ms Rule says her brother was refused medical treatment when the incident occurred.
“My brother was brutalised by prison officers in custody and did not receive health care from the beginning of his only 6 days in remand despite requesting it as he was assaulted by white people when he was arrested!” she said.
The South Australian Correctional Services Chief Executive said two of the officers involved in the incident had facial injuries, including fractures. The five officers, who were "shaken up", have been discharged from hospital but will be receiving ongoing psychological support.
Cheryl Axleby, CEO of the Aboriginal Legal Rights Movement (ALRM) said ALRM was notified of two incidents.
“We were informed there was an assault that occurred in the morning and we we’re told shortly thereafter there was a second medical incident,” she said.
Ms Axleby was unable to reveal the time-frame between the two incidents as ALRM was never given that information. She believes the altercations are connected.
“In the context of the information shared by family, there is grave concern that both incidents were related.”
Ms Axleby said the family wanted Mr Morrison remembered with ‘great integrity’.
“This was the first time he has been in custody. He was on remand awaiting the return of a home detention bail inquiry report. He had not been convicted of any charges for which he was detained,” she said.
Matthew Morrison, brother of the deceased, posted on Facebook last week Wayne’s “first time in prison is likely to be his last” after being “bashed and left to die”.
“He was never violent let alone a criminal and has never been in trouble or locked up,” he said.
Morrison is being remembered as a man who loved his family and the outdoors.
Ms Rule wants everyone to remember her brother for the ‘amazing man’ that he was not the man ‘many are trying to make him out to be.’
“He loved to paint and weave, he loved playing guitar and spent most of his days outdoors, especially fishing. He has a young daughter who will now grow up without a dad.” Ms Rule said.
“Some of his neighbours were saying how much of an amazing man he was for offering to take their kids to school in the morning. He was a community man. He was an amazing Aboriginal artist as well, something very dear to our culture. He was also a chef, but not a very good one,” Ms Rule added.
“We are gobsmacked this could happen to our brother we are in shock as you can imagine he was such amazing person and that’s how we will remember him.”
Ms Rule said her family will be organising protests around the country to mark the death of her brother.
“Protests will be held Australia wide, even internationally with other movements in the next few weeks. They won’t be small but we need time to grieve first.”
Tauto Sansbury, a Narungga elder has ‘grave concerns’ surrounding the independence of the inquiry that will determine what happened to Morrison.
“The lack of understanding and the lack of relationship between Corrections, Police, Aboriginal organisations and communities are totally getting out of hand,” he said.
Ms Axleby with the support of the Morrison family is calling for ‘transparency’ and an ‘open relationship with the Government’.
It’s unclear why Morrison was taken into custody. SA police told NITV News they “don’t release that information.”
Major Crime Detectives are assisting with the investigation and police will prepare a report for the Coroner.