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Coronial inquest delivers findings into the death of Brandon Rich

Tuesday 26 March 2024

Warning: This page contains the name and image of an Aboriginal man who died in an interaction with police, including details of how he died.


The Deputy State Coroner has delivered findings into the death of Brandon Trevor James Rich, a proud Wiradjuri man who was just 29 when he died in a struggle with police.

Magistrate Harriet Grahame was critical of police officers’ failure to de-escalate the situation when their attempt to bring Brandon back to the station didn’t go to plan. Instead, Brandon was capsicum-sprayed, hit with a baton, handcuffed, and physically restrained.

Her Honour also criticised a police officer for calling Brandon a ‘grub’, finding “the term is unprofessional, offensive and stigmatising”. During questioning, the officer described this word as “slang that we’d normally use … one of those common things” and another officer said “you hear it all the time”.

Brandon died of an irregular heartbeat triggered by blocked arteries. He had some underlying health issues, and the inquest also heard from a cardiologist who talked about the gap in health outcomes for Aboriginal people with heart disease.

Nothing will bring my son back. All I can do is continue to fight for justice not only for myself, but for my son but for every family who has gone through and will go through this."

Brandon's family speaks out

Now that the inquest is over, Brandon’s mum and our client, Corina Rich, wants to see NSW Police take responsibility for the Deputy Coroner’s recommendation to improve their de-escalation training.

"The inquest process was extremely hard for myself and my family. Having to come face to face with the police officers involved was quite distressing and whilst the police officers were on stand they gave no condolences to our family regarding the death of my son. This was extremely disheartening to myself and my family; I felt like they didn't care at all," Corina said.

"There will be no change to the system until police are held accountable in some way. I still continue to have nightmares and the pain and suffering will continue for the rest of my life. Nothing will bring my son back; all I can do is continue to fight for justice not only for myself, but for my son but for every family who has gone through and will go through this."

Brandon is one of over 560 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who have died in custody and police operations since the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody.

Corina sends her thanks to Nicolle Lowe and Lizzy Jarrett at the Coroner’s Court, and Apryl Day at The Dhadjowa Foundation for their support.

"I will always love my only son,” she says – a cheeky family man who brought joy and happiness to those around him.

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