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"I don't trust the Queensland Police": Mr George's family seeks closure amid ongoing inquest

Joseph Guenzler -

In the aftermath of Mr George's tragic death in a Kowanyama police cell, recent conversations with a family member highlights the impact on those left behind.

The 52-year-old Indigenous man, known for his strong contribution to the community, was found unresponsive in his cell November 2022. He had self harmed and died when left alone.

Police actions leading to Mr George's suicide included categorising him as a 'level one' prisoner, allowing checks every 60 minutes, despite a blood alcohol level of 0.203.

Failure to flag his history of self-harm threats, inadequate adherence to recommended check frequencies, and leaving him unattended for over an hour in a cell contributed to the tragic outcome.

Darby, a cousin of Mr George, told National Indigenous Times he had "left behind a son, a cousin and a granddaughter".

"I saw the footage of my cousin, how he was locked up and they said no one was in the police station in that time."

Mr George died in police custody in Kowanyama on November 9, 2022.(Supplied: Family of Mr George)

The ongoing coronial inquest in Cairns has unveiled concerning lapses in police procedures, intensifying the family's pursuit of justice and answers.

"It's the system they (police) work in. They should be more strict so I don't like how their system works," Darby said.

"The main issue I look at is the duty of care with those officers.

"They never shared with us what happened so I really want to ask what's the real reason this happened."

Family members of Mr. George presented a framed photo at his Cairns coronial inquest.(Image: ABC Far North/Holly Richardson)

Despite the unfolding proceedings, the family remains profoundly shaken, grappling with grief and a need for closure.

Gwynette George, Mr George's sister, bears the emotional weight as she engages with the complexities of the inquest, with the family's poignant framed photo serving as a symbol of their search for accountability.

"We are staying strong for the community but inside we are very shaken up," Darby said.

"I don't trust the Queensland Police."

The community of Kowanyama continues to mourn, questioning the adequacy of medical care, police protocols, and the classification of Mr George's risk level during detention.

As the inquest progresses, many speculate on how long it will take to address the ongoing issue of Indigenous deaths in custody.

More witnesses, including police, are scheduled to testify when the inquest resumes later this year.

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