Wotton v State of Queensland (No 5)  FCA 1457 (5 December 2016)
The Federal Court has ruled that the State of Queensland engaged in unlawful discrimination under section 9(1) of the Racial Discrimination Act as a result of Queensland Police Service officers' actions on Palm Island between 19 and 28 November 2004, following the death in custody of Aboriginal man Mulrunji after his arrest and confrontation with Senior Sergeant Christopher Hurley.
Representatives of the Aboriginal community on Palm Island brought the action and Justice Mortimer ruled that the following actions were racially discriminatory:
- QPS’ failure to independently and impartially investigate Mulrunji’s death by not treating Hurley as a suspect, or removing him from duty, and ignoring Aboriginal witnesses implicating Hurley;
- QPS’ failure to communicate timely and accurate information on the cause of Mulrunji's death and the investigation with the Palm Island Aboriginal community to defuse tensions;
- the excessive and disproportionate declaration of an emergency situation; and
- the unnecessary and disproportionate actions of officers of the Special Emergency Response Team for arrest, entries and searches on Palm Island as a show of force against the Aboriginal people.
Justice Mortimer granted declaratory relief, ordered compensation to be paid and has requested further submissions on the potential for a public apology. Read More