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Family says justice unlikely for Aboriginal man who died 'running from police'

Giovanni Torre -
: The family of an Aboriginal man who died in floodwaters while allegedly running from police last year has rallied to call for justice ahead of a coronial inquest into his death. Gomeroi man Gordon Copeland, 22, was last seen alive entering the Gwydir River near Moree in the early hours of July 10, 2021. His body was found three months later 500 metres upstream. The Aboriginal Legal Service will represent his family in a coronial inquest into his death to be held in July this year. Mr Copeland’s aunt Lesley Fernando said she had little faith anyone would be held accountable for his death. "For the past five months I have spent a lot of time reading coronial inquests and it is really unlikely a police officer will be made accountable for their actions," she said. “Gordon didn’t commit a crime - he was walking and somebody pulled over and offered him a lift. 12 minutes later he was gone. "He didn’t know it was an unlicensed car... he ran because of the fear that had been put into him by Moree police." A New South Wales Polic spokesperson said it was not aware of any complaints or reports of assault by police against Mr Copeland. Ms Fernando said the process of pursuing an inquest and justice for her nephew was exhausting. “Hopefully Gordon’s case might be the one that brings some sort of change," she said. "We will continue to speak Gordon’s truth and tell his story, and we will get change, a law in his name.” Aboriginal Legal Service NSW/ACT chief executive Karly Warner said she hoped the coronial inquest would give Mr Copeland's family answers. “We’ve known for many years that police chases have dangerous consequences for Aboriginal people, and that Black people often run from police simply because they’re scared after having been targeted by police since colonisation,” she said. Ats least 21 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have died in custody and police operations last year, and there have been more than 500 deaths since the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody concluded in 1991, according to ALS.

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