• Former sergeant Rick Flori says police culture hasn't changed since he leaked footage of officers bashing a man in handcuffs in 2012. (AAP)Source: AAP
A former police sergeant who leaked footage of officers bashing a handcuffed man says the recent death in custody of an Indigenous man is symptomatic of an 'extremely concerning' police culture.
16 Feb 2018 - 12:58 PM  UPDATED 16 Feb 2018 - 1:52 PM

Former Gold Coast police officer Rick Flori was found not guilty at the Southport District Court on Wednesday following a six-day trial on a single charge of misconduct in relation to public office after leaking CCTV footage of a violent arrest in 2012.

Mr Flori, 47, said despite the glare his case has thrown onto illegal and excessive uses of force by some officers towards people in custody, the death of an Indigenous man in Townsville on Saturday showed there was still work to be done.

"It's 2018 (and) the same things are going on," Mr Flori said outside court.

"A 39-year-old Aboriginal father of seven, hadn't had a drink in five years, was alive before he came into contact with police and something's certainly gone on as soon as he's gone into custody.

"That's extremely concerning. It doesn't appear that they've learnt any lessons in this."

The Townsville man, known only as Noomba for cultural reasons, died after what police have described as an "altercation" with officers. It was the second Indigenous death in custody in the north Queensland city in six months.

Stewart Levitt, one of the lawyers acting for the man's family, says Noomba's wife, Regina Matheson, called police to prevent her husband from suiciding. Instead, Mr Levitt alleges she was left watching, calling out "he can't breathe" as police "spear-tackled" her husband "with his face pressed in the dirt". The Sydney lawyer claims Ms Matheson told police that Noomba had a pre-existing heart condition and a history of substance abuse.

Noomba's family say they will fight for "justice and compensation".

'He can't breathe': Family vows to fight for justice after Townsville death in custody
The lawyer representing the family of an Indigenous man who died in custody says the matter must be "diligently investigated", as the family vows to fight for justice.

The death is under investigation by ethical standards command, under the supervision of the coroner, and Queensland's Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC).

Rick Flori said the fact the officer who led the investigation that culminated in his being charged is now working at the CCC concerned him.

"The architect of all this is now working for the CCC," he said.

"The idea of being open and honest, as they continually quote, the checks and balance and all this openness and honesty, is not what they do.

"It's all verbal rhetoric."

A Queensland police spokesperson declined to comment on the death in custody while the matter is under investigation.

- With AAP