A 32-year-old Indigenous man identified by locals on social media as Dennis John “DJ” Doolan is in a critical but stable condition after being shot by police in Cowra, Australia, on Wednesday afternoon.
Witnesses who captured footage of the aftermath of the incident have taken to social media to share it, including one confronting image that shows Doolan face down on the street, having been shot in the lower back.
A statement from authorities said the man was wielding the “large handle” of a mattock (a garden implement). Police have dismissed an image of an unarmed Doolan with his hands up and back to police, who are aiming a hand gun at him saying it was taken during an earlier stage of the 40-minute “confrontation.”
Police also said they treated Doolan on the scene before the arrival of NSW Ambulance Paramedics who “conveyed him to Cowra Airport where he was airlifted to Orange Base Hospital,” although it’s unknown how long he was left lying on the road before medical assistance arrived.
An aunt of the man has reportedly disputed news reports claiming that Doolan was wanted by police or the subject of a warrant as of Wednesday.
The Daily Mail reports that Doolan had smashed a plate and run at police with a screw driver earlier in the encounter. Police have not commented as to whether non-lethal attempts were made to restrain the man before shooting.
Witnesses confronted police, with one man saying “You didn’t have to shoot him.”
“They never tasered him or peppered sprayed him nothing,” said one witness. “Like a mongrel dog sitting on the road. He was crying in agony and pain, and they wouldn’t pick him up.”
Many on social media are displaying both disappointment that the story has not made bigger headlines and anger at what they see as another example of police brutality, in a country where institutional violence and incarceration overly impact Indigenous people to near epidemic levels.
Unarmed Aboriginal Man shot by police in Cowra and it’s no surprise it’s not breaking news. Fact is its struggling to break mainstream media
Black and Deadly (@LiamShab) September 28, 2016
You don’t even have to be holding the screwdriver when you get shot just need to have previously been holding it.
not classy (@hannah_donnelly) September 28, 2016
Police say a critical incident team will investigate the event before an independent review.