‘Shocked and appalled’: Family of Aboriginal man shot dead by NSW Police demands answers | Australian aborigines
Ted and Helen Russell are ruined.
Their last surviving son was shot dead by police at his aunt’s home in northwest Sydney on Tuesday, and they want to know why.
“We were shocked and horrified by the shooting before New South Wales His parents said: “Police our second son Stanley Russell yesterday morning when he was at Aunt Pam’s home in Seven Hills.”
“It is so painful for us to learn all of a sudden that we will never see Stanley’s smile again. His children will suffer not to see him again.
“There are many questions about the murder of our son Stanley by the police that we will seek to answer through the coronary investigation. We will continue our struggle for justice, to ensure that deaths in custody are stopped.”
The scale of Russell’s grief is unimaginable. Stanley was the last of their children alive. Their other biological son, Edward, died in prison in 1999.
Gumeroy Stanley Russell, 46, was a father and grandfather. NSW Police officers shot him after what a police spokesman described as a “physical confrontation” at the home, as they went to carry out an arrest warrant.
Police claimed Stanley Russell was carrying a knife and an axe and “confronted” the four officers, who “fired a number of shots.”
Julie Boone, the acting assistant police commissioner, told reporters at the scene that Russell had “collapsed” after being shot. The Serious Accident Investigation Team is investigating the accident.
The police declined to give any further details about what happened, including the number of shots fired, the policeman who fired the shots and the nature of the “encounter”.
In a statement, Stanley’s parents said they realized he had been murdered when news of the shooting appeared on television. Learn about the home – that of Helen’s sister Pam – in police aerial footage in the front yard.
Now they want to know why the police shot. They questioned police reports that Stanley Russell was armed with a knife and an axe. They want to see police cam footage of her physically wearing the accident.
“Neighbours said they heard four or five gunshots, all inside the house,” Russell said in the statement.
“We learned of our son Stanley’s death when we were watching the news. Pam told us about hearing gunshots inside her house shortly after the police told her to move out. When the police arrived, Pam said, it was only recently that Stanley woke up.
We heard the cops who went to Pam’s house saying they had an arrest warrant for Stanley. There is a big difference between an arrest warrant and shooting a man.”
Guardian Australia asked NSW police a series of questions about the incident but the force declined to comment because the shooting is now under critical review.
NSW Police were asked whether body-worn footage was captured, whether all officers involved had activated body-worn cameras, and whether the Russell family could view them.
They were also asked if the officers in question had attempted other “non-lethal” options before shooting Russell, such as OC spray or tasers.
In 2014, when sentencing Russell to prison, a New South Wales District Court judge found that he had a history of drug addiction and was severely affected by his brother’s death.
NSW Police did not respond to a question about whether they had considered any of these factors prior to the incident on Tuesday, or if they had attempted any further contact with Russell in relation to the pending warrant prior to visiting the Seven Hills home.
A spokesman for the NSW Police Minister, David Elliott, said he would not be able to comment due to a review of the serious incident.
Family members gathered outside the police bar on Tuesday were heard saying, “It’s only bullets for us, no tasers.”
Justin, a neighbor, said she knew Stanley as a “nice and quiet man.”
“I’ve known him for three years, he’d come and visit his aunt here every now and then. I spoke to him last night, and nothing seemed to be wrong,” she said.
Dale MacPherson, another neighbor who knew the family, told ABC they were “loving people.”
Helen and Ted Russell are respected members of their community in Walgate, in the state’s northwest, who have cared for Aboriginal children for years. For the past 22 years, they’ve talked about Edward’s treatment in custody.
He was moved from a secure cell, even though prison staff had known for weeks that he was at high risk of harming himself. He was allowed to keep personal belongings he was using to commit suicide, an item that “should have been confiscated immediately”, property officer Long Bai said for the coronary investigation.
“Edward, Stanley’s older brother, died in Long Bay Prison because the NSW prison system has completely failed in its duty to Edward,” the Russell family said on Wednesday.
“We’ve already gone to hell and back while investigating Edward’s avoidable death in custody.
“Now we have to go through the same pain and trauma again. Given what we currently know about how Stanley died, we have questions about whether the police failed in their duty to him as well.
We have fought for 30 years to help stop Indigenous deaths in custody. We have now lost both sons under NSW. The Royal Commission’s main point about ensuring an active duty of care has been repeatedly ignored.”
The ordeal in the police shooting of Stanley Russell comes after a week of marches to commemorate 29-year-old Yamatji, who was shot and killed by police in Western Australia in 2019.
A first-degree police officer has been charged with her murder – the first Western Australian police officer to face a murder charge for a death in custody in 93 years. After a three-week trial, the jury, which has no Aboriginal members, deliberated for three hours before finding the policeman. Not guilty of premeditated murder or premeditated murder.
JC’s sister, Bernie Clark, said her death was another example of the existence of “No justice, no accountability“.