Ms Dhu 7c - Killing Ms Dhu


Killing Ms Dhu: ‘legal murder’

On the morning of 4 August 2014, Ms Dhu pushed the cell call button for the last time. First Class Constable Matier said something about ‘hospital’ to former Sergeant Bond who responded, ‘That would be the third time she’s been to hospital. She is fit to be held’. He told Ms Dhu ‘this is the last fucking time you’re going to hospital’. On that point he was right.

‘Help me. I can’t feel my legs.’

Ms Dhu, 12:06pm, 4 August 2014

At approximately 12:11pm on 4 August 2014, Senior Constable Burgess yanked on Ms Dhu’s right hand, pulled her up and lost grip. Ms Dhu fell backwards and struck her head on the concrete floor. Senior Constable Burgess checked the concrete floor for blood, but failed to check the state of Ms Dhu’s head. The Coroner’s inquiry focused on whether Constable Burgess manifested ‘contrition’ for the fall by saying sorry.

The law failed to name the fall as an entirely predictable outcome of Constable Burgess’s reckless and brutal handling of Ms Dhu.


Over the next hour, Ms Dhu complained that she could not feel her legs and that the rest of her body was going numb. At 12:30pm an entry was made in the custody system that read ‘Detainee appears to be suffering withdrawals from drug use and is not coping well with being in custody’.

‘I can’t move, I can’t move.’

Ms Dhu, 12:40pm, 4 August 2014

When the decision was made to take Ms Dhu to the hospital for the last time she was unable to get up and had limited use of her head and hands. In this state of near death, she continued to be criminalised. She was handcuffed while lying on her back on the mattress and then dragged across the floor, then carried by two police officers to the back of the police vehicle. When they arrived at the HHC, CCTV shows Ms Dhu appeared to be completely incapacitated. Yet no urgency was shown even at this critical last stage to get the her medical attention that might have saved her life.

Less than a year after Ms Dhu’s death, in the US Sarah Lee Circle Bear, a pregnant 24 year old Lakota woman and mother, was repeatedly told to ‘quit faking’ while in custody at Brown County Jail. Like Ms Dhu she was seriously unwell and died in her cell just two days after being arrested. The parallels between their final days are striking and demonstrate the disregard for Indigenous women North America and Australia alike.



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