investigation

Blak Deaths in Custody Part One: John Pat

Headshot of Rangi Hirini
Rangi HiriniThe West Australian
VideoIn 1983, John Pat died of massive brain injuries in his cell after being arrested for a fight involving five off-duty police officers in Roebourne in WA’s north-west. It was the incident that sparked it all. VIDEO CREDIT: KATE RYAN.

In 1983, 16-year-old John Pat was brutally beaten by five off-duty police officers in Roebourne in WA’s north-west and died from his injuries.

When all five were acquitted, the movement to defend black rights began, with Aboriginal Australians protesting and rallying for years to force a royal commission into the unexplained black deaths in custody.

In Part One of Blak Deaths In Custody the family of John Pat open up like never before as they relive the story of the boy who sparked it all.

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