How did a prisoner in a Victorian police cell become "bloody"? And how come it was initially covered up?
Sickening CCTV footage of a bleeding prisoner crawling from his cell has been described as "deeply disturbing" by a Victoria Police commissioner.
The Chinese man, in his 50s, who was arrested and placed in a cell at Dandenong police station for being drunk, pleaded for help, soiled himself and was bleeding when he was bailed by police on May 12.
Five minutes later, as an interpreter tried to help him, police called an ambulance, but he died the following day in hospital.
Assistant Commissioner Luke Cornelius said an officer had been put on alternative duties while the ethical standards department and the homicide squad investigate the Dandenong death.
"My view is that if you see a prisoner crawling on the ground, that should be a very clear signal that we should be calling an ambulance, and I'm very concerned in this case that did not occur," he said.
Mr Cornelius said there was no evidence of the man being physically mishandled by police.
"It is a deeply disturbing and very disappointing image. I would never want to see anything like that again in my policing career," he said.
Police investigating the tragedy will compile a brief for the state coroner.
The circumstances of the man's death only came to light yesterday after an interpreter who witnessed the incident phoned a radio station.
The woman, "JJ", said the man repeatedly yelled that he needed to go to hospital and was writhing in pain. She said she was struggling to erase the images of his blood-stained face and the "despair" in his eyes.
Another account of the matter:
A Chinese man who was seen bleeding from his mouth and crawling from his police cell "like a dog" begged officers for help hours before he died in hospital, his interpreter claims.
The woman, known as JJ, said she was called to Dandenong police station after the allegedly drunk man was arrested about 2.30pm on May 12.
JJ told Radio 3AW today the man had soiled himself, was bleeding from the mouth and complaining of such intense pain he couldn't stand up or walk at the police station.
She said when the cell door was opened, the man crawled out "on his knees and hands like a dog" with no assistance from police officers. "When I looked through I saw blood everywhere in the cell and he was on the floor yelling ... he was in pain," she said. "I heard him yelling out 'I can’t take this anymore I need to go to the hospital'."
After the man's paperwork had been processed, JJ said he was taken to the garage area and told by an officer to "Get out! Get out!".
"He said 'I can't move, I can't move' and then two officers came and just grabbed him and threw him out," she said. "He yelled in pain, so much pain, he yelled as if someone was killing someone."
JJ said outside the police station the man, aged about 50, told her his back and his right hip were causing him pain. After waiting on the footpath for 40 minutes police organised an ambulance, she said. He died in hospital the next day.
JJ claimed she was told by police the man was "dying anyway". She said the man was married with a 15-year-old daughter. "I just hope his family would get some fair answer," she said.
Victoria Police Assistant Commissioner Luke Cornelius today confirmed the incident was being investigated by the homicide squad and ethical standards department.
He said he understood the man had been "very unwell for some considerable time" and tests had revealed a "substantial amount" of alcohol in his blood.
He said there was "no evidence of physical force in the course of his body being examined".
Assistant Commissioner Cornelius said the interpreter had provided a statement to investigators from the ethical standards department and he had "no reason to doubt the account provided by the witness".
He also revealed a police officer who had contact with the man has been assigned a new role while the investigations continue.
"I understand that the duties of one of the members involved was reviewed and as a result that member is undertaking other duties," Assistant Commissioner Cornelius said. "At this stage we haven't formed a view one way or the other about the appropriateness of the conduct of those members."
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