By Chris Graham
July 25, 2017 “Information Clearing House” - About 100 metres from my home on the edge of the Brisbane CBD is the corner of Boundary and Brereton Streets.
On November 7, 1993, Daniel Yock, an 18-year-old Aboriginal dancer died there. Or at least he was picked up there, by police.
Daniel probably died in the back of a police wagon, like some cattle do on their way to a slaughterhouse. In any event, he was certainly dead by the time he reached the police watchhouse, just a few kilometres from the scene of his arrest.
Daniel Yock’s ‘offence’ was to sit with his friends in nearby Musgrave Park and drink alcohol.
Throughout the afternoon, police circled the block in a wagon. The boys - feeling harassed and intimated - contacted the manager of the local Aboriginal hostel they were staying at. He came down to meet the group, and they decided to head home before dark.
They were tailed by two police officers - Constables Suzette Domrow and Scott Harris - the whole way.
Constable Harris is captured on police radio recordings in the ensuing minutes before Daniel’s arrest.
“There’s about 7 or 8 Aboriginal persons fairly, sort of giving us a few problems and calling us names. They are full of piss, we’d like some persons to come down.”
The recordings show car 591 responded immediately, but was unavailable.
Harris: Yeah, I’ll just get another car. I just thought you might be around ‘cause you love that sort of stuff.
Car 591: Yeah, we’d like to but we can’t.
Harris: You would have loved it. No worries. Thank you.”
Alas, no sport today for Car 591.
A few minutes later, Harris called for back-up, and police from around the area swarmed. The group scattered, but Daniel didn’t get far. He was crash tackled to the ground by police.
Multiple witnesses - including white bystanders - reported that after he was brought down, he didn’t move. One of his friends, Glen Gray, could see foam coming from the mouth of a clearly unconscious Daniel Yock. He tried to get police to help. They pushed him back, ignored his pleas.
Yock was dragged unconscious to the paddy wagon, and dumped in the back. His hands were still cuffed behind his back. The police then drove around looking for another youth. One of the boys already in the back with Daniel tried to alert police Daniel’s condition. He was also ignored.
When the wagon finally made it back to the watch house half an hour later, Daniel Yock was likely already dead.
An independent forensic pathologist noted that, with three fresh abrasions to his head, Daniel may have been the victim of a relatively minor assault in the course of his arrest. It had not, however, caused his death. But a pre-existing heart condition meant that Yock’s handling after his arrest - in particular the speed at which arresting officers provided aid in the face of obvious symptoms of severe distress - was crucial.
Needless to say, no police were ever charged over the death of Daniel Yock. A Crime and Corruption Commission inquiry instead recommended “further training” for officers.