Long Bay Prison guards fire tear gas at inmates after fight breaks out
Helicopter vision of the incident also shows six inmates spelling B L M, a reference to the Black Lives Matter movement, on the ground.
Aboriginal man David Dungay died inside the prison hospital complex in 2015 when guards stormed his cell because he refused to stop eating a packet of biscuits. Dungay was dragged to another cell by guards, held face down and injected with a sedative by a Justice Health nurse. In harrowing footage released to the public, Dungay said 12 times that he couldn’t breathe, before losing consciousness and dying.
Corrective Services said tear-gas was used on Monday to quell fighting inmates who refused to obey officers’ directions and allow staff to enter the yard.
“Gas was deployed to safely secure those inmates,” a Corrective Services statement said. “Inmates in another two yards then began refusing to obey staff directions. Gas was deployed with officers now safely securing those inmates.”
One prisoner has been taken to hospital for treatment for a dog bite after “he refused to drop a gaol-made weapon”, the statement said.
“There is no indication the unrest was related to the Black Lives Matter protests.”
No other injuries were reported, but prison officers and inmates were on Monday afternoon being examined for side effects from the use of the gas.
Residents from the surrounding suburbs were also affected by the gas
Anne Lee, whose back and side fence border the prison, said that more than two hours after the incident took place the tear-gas in the air was still too strong for her family to go outside.
“It went straight down the throat and my eyes, I probably only got a small whiff and it was still debilitating,” she said.
“We could hear the helicopters and the dogs. My husband opened the door to see what was outside and we all recoiled.”
Mrs Lee said she had lived in Malabar her entire life and had never experienced tear-gas from the prison previously.
Corrective Services NSW is investigating the incident. NSW Police have been notified.
“Corrective Services apologises to any members of the community affected by gas used during the incident today and we ask anyone affected to please contact the prison,” the statement said.
Sally Rawsthorne is a Crime Reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald.