The heartbroken family of a 26-year-old Aboriginal woman who died in a Perth hospital five days after losing consciousness while handcuffed by Western Australian police have spoken out about their grief and demanded criminal charges.
Cherdeena Wynne died on April 9, 2019, days after she was arrested by police officers on the side of Albany Highway after she escaped from an ambulance while being treated for self-harm injuries.
A coroner recently found the mother-of-three was restrained with unnecessary force but that individual officers weren’t to blame.
She was suffering a manic episode when a 115 kilogram police officer knelt on her back for almost two minutes.
Her family say the “dangerous” hold was a case of racial profiling and unlawful detainment.
Ms Wynne’s grandmother, Jennifer Clayton, said the family feel “let down and disheartened by police”.
“When will there be accountability for these actions, or lack of actions, by police that led to the death of a human being,” Ms Clayton said.
“Police should not intervene in a health crisis, they are trained to use force and they don’t bother training to keep safe.”
The inquest found a range of failings by police: that Ms Wynne should have been cuffed standing up, that the force applied was unnecessary, and that no one checked to see if she was breathing.
Ms Wynne’s great aunt, Barbarra Stockel-Clayton, said all she needed was for someone to care.
“This young lady who just needed help, but not one person checked her breathing,” she said.
The coroner found cardiac arrest as her cause of death, brought on by the way she was detained, her physical exertion, and methamphetamine found in her system.
The inquest recommended improved police training, and WA Police says it will examine any actions that may need to be implemented.
Ms Wynne’s grandmother demanded the answers to several questions.
“Have the police IAU [Internal Affairs Unit] changed their ways?
“Do they always check the CCTV against police statements now?
“Have the officers been counselled or disciplined?
“Have their policies changed?
“Have the police had cultural awareness training?
“This wasn’t mentioned in the findings by the coroners. The fact the police cannot tell me when my granddaughter stopped breathing is disgusting,” she said.
All deaths in custody are automatically referred to the coroner for investigation.