Protest’s followed death of Carl Woods
First published – 13th April 2007
All credits: ABC Online
Any news updates on this case will be listed at the foot of this item
This is a transcript from PM, ABC Online. The programme is broadcast around Australia at 5:10pm on Radio National and 6:10pm on ABC Local Radio. You can also listen to the story in REAL AUDIO and WINDOWS MEDIA. Listen to the report here
More than a hundred people gathered in Perth today to call for an open coronial inquest into the death in custody of an Aboriginal man a year ago. Carl Woods suffered a massive heart attack last April when police arrested him over an alleged home invasion. A police report has now been handed to the WA Coroner. Police have told the man’s family that no officer will be charged over the incident.
But Carl Woods’ family say his body was badly bruised, and they want the officers involved in the arrest stood down.
David Weber reports.
DAVID WEBER: It took several officers to apprehend Carl Woods, who’d apparently broken into a home in a Perth suburb. The 35-year-old resisted arrest and was handcuffed and put into a police wagon, where he reportedly suffered the heart attack.
Nyoongar elder Ben Taylor was the first to address today’s rally.
BEN TAYLOR: We are all here united for one thing – we’re tired, as an elder I’m nearly 70 years of age, and I’m tired of following the funerals of our people. And, you know, it’s gotta stop.
DAVID WEBER: Human rights lawyer Hannah McGlade said the police inquiry into the death shouldn’t have taken a year to complete.
She said there should’ve already been an independent inquiry.
Ms McGlade praised the Nyoongar community for showing restraint.
HANNAH MCGLADE: In relation to Palm Island, the whole of Australia witnessed the systemic discrimination of Aboriginal victims of crime. In Palm Island, the Aboriginal people believed that rioting against the police was the only way that they would have justice, and it’s a credit to the Woods family that there has been no retaliation, notwithstanding the way that they have also not had equal access to justice.
DAVID WEBER: The Reverend Sealin Garlett told the crowd he prepared Carl Woods for burial.
SEALIN GARLETT: And I stood next to him before I put him in a coffin, and I held his finger, and I stroked his brow, and I asked him, uncle, what happened?
He was a strong man. He should’ve been still here. The monarchs (an Aboriginal term for police) don’t have any god-given right to kill our people.
DAVID WEBER: A friend of Carl Woods took photos of his body lying in the morgue shortly after he died.
Humphrey Woods said he’d seen the photos and he believed his son was assaulted.
HUMPHREY WOODS: I feel there’s no justice has been done properly in this way. I just want justice for my son. That’s how I feel, it’s not been done.
DAVID WEBER: What would you like to be done?
HUMPHREY WOODS: What I’d like to be done is that the police be stood down, that who’s done it, and then we’ll find out when the coroner gets the report, and I hope justice has been done.
DAVID WEBER: They said that your son died of a heart attack.
HUMPHREY WOODS: I think the photos will show everyone that … I think that if you look at the photos they’ll see that he never died of a heart attack. He was brutally bashed up.
My concern … I think he was killed as far as I’m concerned. I don’t know.
I want justice, that’s all.
(Sound of protester speaking over loudspeaker)
DAVID WEBER: A spokesman for WA Police says the department’s report into the incident wasn’t held up for any particular reason. He’s pointed out that a toxicology report can take many months to complete.
A spokesman for the coroner’s office says there will be an inquest into the death of Carl Woods, and it’s likely there will be an open hearing.
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