An Aboriginal grandmother who died in hospital after being held in police custody was in tears in the hours before she was found injured on the floor of her cell, footage shown at her inquest reveals.
Tanya Day, 55, died from a brain haemorrhage in December 2017. Seventeen days earlier, she had been removed from a train for public drunkenness at Castlemaine station, north of Melbourne.
Footage from the police station aired at the inquest into her death shows the Yorta Yorta woman unsteady and apparently crying.
She'd been taken to the police station by senior constables Matthew Fitzgibbon and Kristian Hurford in a divisional van.
Sen Const Fitzgibbon told the inquest on Thursday Ms Day had been "light on her feet".
He said his partner contacted Ms Day's daughter Kimberley to explain the situation but she wasn't able to collect her mother, so the Aboriginal Community Justice Panel at Bendigo was notified.
The person who answered the phone told them she was "not prepared to send one of her staff to come and collect her", he said.
As no one could collect Ms Day she was taken into the cells.
"I knew she was unsteady on her feet the whole time," Sen Const Fitzgibbon said of Ms Day.
At one point he had to hold her hand while in the cell "to keep her steady" while another officer patted her down.
Ms Day had been upset "on and off ... but that's not unusual," Snr Const Fitzgibbon said.
"No one is happy to be in a cell."
He said it appeared she had been wiping her eyes and also appeared upset at the charge counter.
Ms Day's jewellery, bright pink jumper and shoes were taken away from her because they were deemed a safety risk.
After Sen Const Fitzgibbon left the cell he had no further contact with her but was told she was injured when he returned for a break at the station.
"I was informed... that Ms Day had fallen and hit her head and they had checked on her and saw she had a lump on her head," Snr Const Fitzgibbon said.
Once Ms Day was taken into the police station officers did not go inside her cell until she was due to be released later that night.
The coroner is examining whether racism contributed to Ms Day's death.
Australian Associated Press
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