Investigations have been shown in connection with photos of police officers who arrested a Native man who died after being squeezed outside the Officeworks store in Perth.
Family members lamented the plight as they exited the room as the Perth Magistrate’s Court was shown Tuesday a confrontation between police and Mr. Riley, 39, whose name has not been used due to cultural differences.
Attorney-in-law Rachel Collins said two police officers had visited the Officeworks store in East Perth in May 2017 in response to reports not related to the crime.
They were introduced to Riley who appeared to be moving back and forth hitting his forehead. He had a history of drug-related mental illness and his family was concerned about his well-being.
The officers approached the father of six children who called zero three times to ask for an ambulance if he did not associate with them.
Collins said Riley then proceeded to police and shouted “I’m going to kill you”, prompting Const Rory Winterburn to pull out his Taser.
Police tried to stop the man as he struggled.
“In the face of this opposition, Mr. Riley made repeated attempts to continue the discovery of Constable [James] Wolfe’s firearm and bit Constable Wolfe’s arm so hard that he bled profusely,” Collins told investigators.
Several more police officers arrived to help apprehend Mr. Riley. Collins said Winterburn’s Taser was activated 10 times in less than two minutes just before and during the struggle.
Photographs taken by witnesses showed Riley crying as she was held on the ground for seven minutes before an ambulance arrived.
Efforts were made to rehabilitate him at the scene before he was rushed to Royal Perth Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
A pathologist diagnosed with the cause of death is associated with cardiac arrhythmia “following violent exertion that requires physical restraint in a person with methylamphetamine effect, high blood pressure known and obesity”.
Riley had previously been convicted of assaulting a police officer and an ambulance.
One witness helped stop Riley after he was asked to do so by one of the first two officers.
John Barber told the investigation that he remained on Riley’s legs until other police officers arrived, adding that he felt the police were committed to reducing the conflict. He said he had seen Riley’s fingers reach the officer’s gun.
Investigations were also heard from WA police officer Det Sgt Brett Fowler, who wrote an internal criminal report on Riley’s death. The report concluded that there were no criminal acts by the police.
Riley was stopped by East Perth police the night before his death after he was seen driving recklessly.
He was not arrested but was handcuffed and taken to the Perth waiting room for a drug test.
Police told Riley he was free to leave and take him to Royal Perth Hospital but he left before being seen by a doctor.
The next morning he was seen cleaning staff outside the hospital shouting “The police are following me, why are they following me?”
Riley’s mother, Margaret Ugle, arrived at the Central Law Court building with the sign “I Can’t Breathe! BLM ”, referring to the death of African American man George Floyd in a US police cell.
The court declined to release any of Riley’s detainees.
“People need to see it,” said Riley’s sister, Cassandra Riley, outside the courtroom. “Someone should be held responsible for my brother’s death.”
The chief executive of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services, Hannah McGlade, has called for an independent investigation into the conduct of police officers working with Riley.
“Shockingly, the standard of policing was appropriate in court today,” McGlade said. The investigation is ongoing.