Local Aborigines rose up after the death, destroying the police station and a police barracks was destroyed on Palm Island, which has a dark history since being used as a resettlement site for "disruptive" Aborigines last century.
Snr-Sgt Chris Hurley was charged over the death in custody following a massive public outcry. However, on June 20, 2007, an all white jury took less than four hours to decide on a not guilty verdict to the charges of manslaughter and assault, sanctioning the police’s claim that Mulrunji died as a result of a “complicated fall”.
Mulrunji suffered 4 broken ribs and a liver severed in two before internally bleeding to death in a cell while Hurley went about business as usual. In fact the jury heard gruesome details that Aborigine Mulrunji Doomadgee's liver was "virtually cleaved in two" during a struggle with the officer.
But despite all this Hurley was let off.
Hurley has been immediately reinstated even though he changed his story, and admitted he caused the death of Mulrunji from horrific injuries while Mulrunji was in his care.
As evidence was heard throughout the week following the trial’s start, the family of Mulrunji, Indigenous elders and activists, and other supporters of justice in Townsville held ceremonies outside the courthouse each morning and attended court proceedings.
They got a first hand look at Australian injustice.
Hurley was the first officer to be charged over an Aboriginal death in custody in Queensland, and one of only a few in Australia.
Indigenous activist Murrandoo Yanner is urging Mulrunji's family to take civil action against Hurley.
"Hurley is the white O.J. Simpson so we might have a civil case to bring him to his knees," he told reporters yesterday, referring to the former US football star who was acquitted of murdering his ex-wife and her friend in a criminal court, but later found liable for their deaths in a civil trial.
"I'm not surprised [by the verdict]. I know Townsville well. Honestly [it's] the KKK [Ku Klux Klan] capital of Australia; that's no joke."
The following is from Intercontinetal Cry.
Death of justice in Queensland - Demand Justice for Mulrunji
Sgt Chris Hurley, the Officer who beat Mulrunji (Cameron Doomadgee) in 2004, inflicting injuries so great that the injuries cleaved his liver in two and later died as a result - has been found not guilty.
Media Release - "Death of justice in Queensland"
The acquittal of Snr-Sgt Chris Hurley - despite him admitting he caused Mulrunji's death, despite him changing his story, despite overwhelming medical evidence likening Mulrunji's fatal injuries to a high-speed car crash - is the lowest point in Australia's judicial system for Aboriginal people," said Aboriginal leader and Socialist Alliance Indigenous spokesperson Sam Watson, in response to the not guilty verdict in the manslaughter trial of Hurley.
"The police rallied around their own, fixed their story of 'a complicated accident', and the 12-member non-Indigenous jury agreed," Watson continued. "This jury decision has sanctioned the unlawful death of an Aboriginal person in police custody."
"The fact that the life an Aboriginal person was worth less than four hours consideration by the jury reinforces Townsville - named after one of the last slave owners Robert Towns - as a centre of anti-Aboriginal prejudice."
"We extend our sympathy and love to the family and community on Palm Island - they will need healing time. But around Australia, the Aboriginal community and non-Aboriginal supporters will rally and continue the struggle for justice. We make a promise to the family of Mulrunji and all families who have lost loved-ones in custody - Hurley and all police will be held accountable. There must be justice for all - whether you're born in Brisbane or on Palm Island."
"The Jury verdict ended one process, but the struggle for justice continues," said Watson.
An Indigenous rights demonstration planned to march on State Parliament at 1pm this Friday in protest at council amalgamations, will also take up the ongoing fight for justice for Mulrunji, with a minute silence for the 'death of justice in Queensland.'
Watson and other Aboriginal leaders have called for massive national protests on July 14, NAIDOC day.
"At end of day, all we ever ask is that those who are taken into custody come out alive, but in Queensland, this appears to be an impossible ask."
For information or interviews phone Sam Watson 0401 227 443 or Paul Benedek 0410 629 088