A 22-Year-Old Aboriginal Man From NSW Has Died While In Police Custody

A 22-year-old Aboriginal man has died in custody, and his family are seeking answers.

Tane Chatfield, a member of the Gomeroi and Aaniwan Nations, died in hospital on Friday 22 September after being found unresponsive at Tamworth Correctional Centre around 9am on Wednesday.

The family member has given PEDESTRIAN.TV permission to use his name and photograph.

“Tane was a kind and loving man who always stood by anyone who needed him,” his cousin, who asked not to be named, told P.TV. “He had such a giving nature.”

“My poor brother had his whole life ahead of him,” his sister Christine Tae’arnie Dolly Vale wrote on a GoFundMe page that has been set up to raise both awareness of his death, and money for his funeral.

“Now his baby son missed out on the privilege of growing up with a father.”

The family is seeking answers surrounding his death, and BuzzFeed News reports that around 200 family and community members staged a protest outside the Tamworth jail on Saturday afternoon.

“The Corrective Services Investigation Unit, which is part of the NSW Police Force, is investigating and will prepare a report on the death,” a spokesperson for Corrective Services NSW told P.TV.

“The death is not being treated as suspicious. All deaths in custody are referred to the NSW coroner.”

A NSW Police spokesperson confirmed to PEDESTRIAN.TV that “a postmortem will be conducted in the coming days to determine the cause of his death” adding that “it would be inappropriate to provide any further comment.”

Online, First Nations people are using the hashtag #JusticeForTane to raise awareness of his death.

Last week, the family of Ms Dhu, an Aboriginal woman who died in custody in 2014, was granted a $1.1 million ex-gratia payment and given an apology by the West Australia State Government.

She died on her third visit to Headland Health Campus within 48 hours, after complaining of feeling unwell. She was found to have died of septicaemia and pneumonia, with the coroner saying that if doctors had properly diagnosed her, she might have lived.

Last year marked the 25 year anniversary since the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody tabled its national report. The bulk of the commission’s 339 recommendations remain unimplemented or only partially implemented.