A recommendation has been made at the coronial inquest into the death of Aboriginal man, Gordon Copeland, to create a law in the man's name.
Mr Copeland's body was found three months after disappearing into the Gwydir River at Moree during a police incident in the early hours of July 10, 2021. The coronial inquest into his death began in Moree on Monday, July 18.
Barrister Bill Neild, said the Copeland family, had asked him to strongly advocate for the recommendation of a law they would like called Gordon's Law.
He said it related to police pursuing people - whether they were suspected of committing a crime or for some other reason - near a dangerous body of water.
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"The family are greatly concerned and want to ensure that what happened to Gordon does not happen to anyone else," he said.
Lawyer, Imogen Hogan, representing Mr Copeland's partner Josephine Brown, said this was not an isolated incident and that it was part of the inter-generational disempowerment of Aboriginal people.
Ms Hogan drew attention to the fact that Mr Copeland's funeral took place two days before Ms Brown gave birth to their third son, and that Mr Copeland's uncle had also passed away in a police pursuit.
"This community is scared and this community deserves better," Ms Hogan said. "NSW Police must do better!"
"Josephine can't lose Gordon Copeland Jnr; this family can't lose another Gordon Copeland."
Counsel assisting the coroner, Dr Peggy Dwyer, said that a determination would have to be made if a 'pursuit' did take place.
"The legal definition in my submission is not satisfied," Dr Dwyer said.
"That doesn't mean the decision to follow a vehicle was appropriate," she said.
Dr Dwyer said the risk to the occupants of the vehicle/s and other road users was "not worth it"!
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"This has been the subject of a lot of discussion. There are other jurisdictions in Australia that have changed their policies.
"I'm going to suggest Your Honour make a recommendation for the consideration of the NSW Commissioner as a result of the facts of Gordon's case," she said.
A number of recommendations will be made in writing to the coroner, who will then make her findings.
The inquest continues on its final day on Friday, with family statements, after two weeks' of evidence.
A non-publication order has been made over the family statements.
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