A coroner is set to hand down findings into the death of an Indigenous man in custody in South Australia, more than four years after taking initial evidence in the case.
Wayne Fella Morrison died in 2016 after being restrained and placed in an escort van at Adelaide’s Yatala Labour Prison.
He had been arrested on assault charges about a week earlier and refused bail.
The 29-year-old was being taken for a court appearance by video link when he became involved in a scuffle with prison officers.
He was lifted into a van and placed face down but was blue and unresponsive when he was pulled out.
Despite resuscitation attempts, he did not regain consciousness and died in hospital three days later.
SA deputy coroner Jayne Basheer will deliver her findings into Mr Morrison’s death on Friday after initially opening her inquiry in 2018.
Her investigation was stalled at times as guards involved in the incident sought not to give evidence.
In 2020 a report by South Australian Ombudsman Wayne Lines found that corrections officials had failed to identify Mr Morrison as Aboriginal and a person at risk.
Mr Lines also criticised officials for failing to provide sufficient information and support to his family and access to him before his death.
“While I accept that it is easy in hindsight for me to criticise the actions of the department in dealing with an unexpected and high-stress situation, it is essential for the purposes of good administrative practices that I continue to hold the department to a high yet achievable standard,” the ombudsman said.
“I consider that there were serious shortcomings in the department’s dealings with Mr Morrison’s family.”