‘He can’t breathe’: Actions of police under spotlight as Coronial Inquest probes Indigenous death in custody where children watched their father die.
‘He can’t breathe’: Actions of police under spotlight as Coronial Inquest probes Indigenous death in custody where children watched their father die.

Man's plea for help ends in his death

IN the early hours of the morning, a panicked wife anxious about her husband's deteriorating mental health calls for help.

Before day breaks, the man is dead.

Instead of receiving mental health care, he died in police custody just metres from his home, allegedly after junior officers "spear-tackled" him, shoved his face in the dirt and used a controversial neck hold to restrain him.

Questions about the actions of Townsville police have been raised just a month before Queensland Coroners Court probes the death of Trevor King, known culturally as Noomba, on February 10, 2018.

Shortly before his death, his wife Regina King called triple-0 out of concern for his welfare as he was under the influence of toxic inhalations and talking of suicide.

Lawyer and activist Stewart Levitt alleges the 39-year-old father was subjected to rough treatment from police officers before he died as paramedics watched on.

Lawyer and activist Stewart Levitt has released a an anthology of poems that deal with his take on society, politics, religion and life. Image: Gabriel Hutcheon
Lawyer and activist Stewart Levitt has released a an anthology of poems that deal with his take on society, politics, religion and life. Image: Gabriel Hutcheon

The Guardian last week reported shocking details, alleging documents before the coroner showed police allegedly used a controversial neck hold known as a lateral vascular neck restraint, which is banned in other jurisdictions across the world, during a struggle with Mr King.

The Guardian also wrote that documents before the coroner showed police claimed Mr King attempted to strike one of the officers before he was chased and tackled.

Speaking to the Bulletin, Mr Levitt said Mr King's family watched on in distress, told officers about his heart condition and called out "he can't breathe" as officers restrained him.

Mr Levitt will represent Mr King's family at the April inquest, which will ask if the actions of the officers were appropriate.

"They came and, instead of them protecting the person, that person's health deteriorated to the point of being killed," Mr Levitt said. "Police are to help people, not hurt people."

Police bodycam footage which captured the incident and its fallout is expected to shed light on the situation during the inquest.

Coroner Terry Ryan will preside over the inquest into Mr King's death from April 6 in Townsville.

Originally published as Probe into how plea for help ended in death



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