back to top

Family Want Justice After Man Was Killed By Bouncer

"It has got to stop. Our lives matter too."

Posted on

The family of Aboriginal man Styles King, who died after being restrained by security guards outside a pub in 2013, say they're "beyond gutted" following a coronial inquest into his death.

facebook.com

"The message here in the Northern Territory seems to be clear that our lives as Aboriginal people do not matter," Style's cousin, acclaimed actor and artist, Kamahi King told BuzzFeed News.

"It has got to stop. Our lives matter too".

King died after an altercation with bouncer Tim Hoemann and duty manager Shaun Clark at the Katherine Hotel, also known a Kirbys, in the town of Katherine in the Northern Territory, three hours south of Darwin.

Hoermann, a German national, was charged with negligent manslaughter but was found not guilty by a jury in 2014.

The autopsy found that given the "history of restraint", King "likely died during acute heart failure as a result of acute asphyxiation".

CCTV footage played at the inquest showed Hoermann holding King in a tight headlock on the ground and punching his head several times as he struggled to break free.

The inquest noted that King died from "situational asphyxiation" due to the pressure placed on his body.

A triple-0 call made by a woman during the incident revealed King screaming "I can't breathe" in the background.

In delivering his findings on Friday, coroner Greg Cavanagh said that the level of training to become a bouncer was inadequate. But even with a high level of training, Cavanagh conceded that there would always be issues with security guards.

View this video on YouTube

youtube.com

"There will always be 'rogues' in the security industry, i.e. persons who are bullies and thugs and despite all their training will use violence which goes beyond any reasonable restraint and is not in accordance with their duties," Cavanagh said.

"In my view, Mr Hoermann may very well have been such a person".

"Mr King should not have died in the manner that he did. It was, as submitted by counsel for the family, 'horrible and unnecessary'," Cavanagh wrote in his findings.

The distraught King family believes the former security guard got off "scot-free" after details of Hoermann's violent past emerged during the inquest. Kamahi strongly believes that Hoermann would have been convicted if the victim was non-Indigenous.

Supplied.

"This would not have happened if the patron was white. Or even for that matter if it was a black security guard that did this to a white patron," Kamahi says.

"Could you imagine the public outcry if a black security guard was found not guilty of manslaughter?"

CCTV footage of Hoermann violently punching another man in the face, who then fell to the concrete, just weeks before the death of King was played during the inquest and questions of previous charges over domestic violence allegations came to light.

Clark, who held one of King's arms behind his back while he was pinned down on the ground by Hoermann, was found not guilty of the same charge.

Hoermann left Australia after the trial and with the inquest now over Kamahi says the family are resigned to the fact that they may never get justice over the death.

"It's heartbreaking, what can we do now? The system has let us down as black people. We will keep fighting for Styles, but the people who did this to him can walk around as if nothing happened".

Formerly with BuzzFeed News, Allan Clarke is a NITV reporter based in Sydney.

Contact Allan Clarke at arielle.benedek+AC@buzzfeed.com.

Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.