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Charges possible for cop in fatal Indigenous teen crash

Samantha Lock -

Police were told not to pursue a trail bike that Indigenous teen Jai Wright was riding before he crashed into an unmarked car and died, an inquest has heard.

An officer involved in a crash that killed an Indigenous teenager could be referred for criminal prosecution as a coroner probes police conduct in the lead-up to the collision.

Jai Wright suffered critical head injuries when he collided with Sergeant Benedict Bryant's unmarked police car, throwing him from a trail bike in inner-city Sydney on February 19, 2022.

The 16-year-old died the following day at Prince Alfred Hospital.

His family filled a court room on Monday, telling reporters the truth would soon be revealed.

NSW Police said the bike Jai was riding had been stolen, along with a black Mercedes and white BMW, about 7am the day of the collision.

An inquest into the teenager's death heard there was no controversy surrounding the time, place, date or medical cause of death.

"The real issue concerns the manner of his death and the circumstances surrounding his death," counsel assisting Peggy Dwyer SC said.

About 7.26am, police spotted the vehicles stopped at a traffic light in Newtown and noted they were similar to those earlier reported stolen, she said.

After following but losing sight of the vehicles, the constables updated police radio prompting other officers to patrol the area.

The bike Jai was riding was last seen turning right into Sydney Park Road in Alexandria before it was involved in a crash with an unmarked police car at a nearby intersection, according to police.

Dr Dwyer said officers were told over police radio they should stay in the area but not pursue the stolen vehicles.

"Nobody is to pursue the bikes," she quoted a senior officer saying.

"Just confirming, no cars to pursue."

CCTV and in-car video footage played to the court showed Sgt Bryant swinging an unmarked silver Holden Commodore sedan around in front of the bike before it hit the police vehicle at high speed.

Gasps were heard in the courtroom and several of Jai's family members held their heads in their hands as the footage showed the wreckage of the bike strewn across the road.

Dr Dwyer said Sgt Bryant did not activate his lights or siren before performing the roadblock and had four traffic offences, including a caution, on his driving record at the time.

There was, however, no evidence to suggest he or any of the officers involved were engaged in a pursuit, she added.

"In driving through the end of the bike lane, Jai appears to have hit the bollard at reasonably high speed, which effectively acted as a ramp, and propelled him airborne into the intersection when he hit it," she said.

The trail bike then collided with the front passenger side of the stopped police car, throwing him several metres into the intersection.

An autopsy report recorded Jai's cause of death as blunt-force head injury.

"Jai was only 16 when he died and had the world at his feet," Dr Dwyer said.

The Dunghutti boy came from Revesby in Sydney's southwest and was studying to be an electrical apprentice.

A critical incident investigation led by Sydney City Police at the time did not recommend any charges.

However, NSW State Coroner Teresa O'Sullivan said she may refer the matter to the Director of Public Prosecutions in a move that would suspend the inquiry's proceedings.

Lachlan Wright described his son as a "proud Aboriginal boy" who was "vibrant, funny and clever".

"We just want the truth to come out," he told AAP.

"Until we get complete answers we'll always grieve."

The inquest continues.

13YARN 13 92 76

Aboriginal Counselling Services 0410 539 905

Samantha Lock - AAP

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