© AAPTanys's daughter Apryl Watson, are seen at a smoking ceremony in Kings Domain Park prior to a Coroners Inquest, Monday, August 26, 2019. An inquest into the death of Aboriginal woman Tanya Day in police custody will examine whether racism was a factor in her death. (AAP Image/David Crosling) NO ARCHIVING
Individual police need to be held criminally accountable for the death in custody of Yorta Yorta woman Tanya Day, her children will argue to the Victorian Coroners Court.
They also want Victorian coroner Caitlin English to acknowledge that systemic racism and unconscious bias were central to Ms Day's death.
The calls come in a written submission to the inquest into Ms Day's death almost two years ago.
Final oral submissions will be heard in court today.
The 55-year-old grandmother fell and suffered a head injury while in a regional Victorian police cell after being arrested for drunkenness on a train on December 5, 2017.
She died two weeks later.
"We know that our mum died in custody because police targeted her for being drunk in public and then failed to properly care for her after they locked her up," her family said in a statement today.
"We know that racism was a cause of our mum's death. Both individual police officers and Victoria Police as a whole must be held to account. Without accountability, more Aboriginal people will die in custody." © AAPFamily members, including Tanya's daughter Apryl Watson (centre), march to the Coroners Court after smoking ceremony in Kings Domain Park prior to a Coroners Inquest, Monday, August 26, 2019. An inquest into the death of Aboriginal woman Tanya Day in police custody will examine whether racism was a factor in her death. (AAP Image/David Crosling) NO ARCHIVING
Day family arguing for three main things:
- For individual police officers to be held accountable through a criminal investigation
- For Victoria Police, V/Line and Ambulance Victoria to be held to account through a finding that systemic racism was a cause of Ms Day's death
- For a recommendation police stop investigating other police.
Ms Day was woken from sleep as she travelled on a train on her way to Melbourne and arrested for being drunk in a public place, then hit her head in a police cell.
Her family argues that on the evidence heard so far, it is "possible" police have committed offences which the coroner should refer to the Department of Public Prosecutions.
The submission also argues systemic racism and unconscious bias played a "central role" in Ms Day's death, because public drunkenness laws were more likely to be applied to her as an Aboriginal woman.
They have also stressed the significance of the coroner's findings for future generations.