Maori inmate dies while being restrained by guards

A police investigation is being held into the death of a Maori prison inmate in central Queensland last weekend.

Josen Tofia Mataia, 32, on remand at the jail 20km north of Rockhampton, reportedly died while being restrained by guards at the Capricornia Correctional Centre.

The Prisoners Legal Service (PLS) is calling for an immediate Crime and Misconduct Commission (CMC) investigation into the death.

Mataia was originally arrested in Cairns on breaking-and-entering charges, but allegedly assaulted an officer at a police station.

PLS spokeswoman Matilda Alexander told the ABC his death was seen by other inmates.

They “saw the prisoner being dragged along by between four and six officers in an inappropriate restraint position”.

The death raised questions of inappropriate use of force.

“There were witnesses to it and I certainly don’t think that there’s any doubt about the fact that he died while being restrained,” she said.

Sources told the Courier-Mail newspaper in Brisbane that Mataia had earlier assaulted two of the officers, and that at least one of the guards had clothing soaked in urine.

Prison guards at Capricornia walked off the job on Wednesday — leaving management and police to operate the high-security jail in lockdown — to protest about the officer being required to stay in wet clothes until police arrived to take custody of the clothing.

A local newspaper, the Rockhampton Morning Bulletin, reported it was initially claimed Mataia died after a heart attack.



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