Family thankful justice will be served in manslaughter case
The family of an Aboriginal man who died while in custody at Lismore are relieved a manslaughter charge has been brought against the NSW Corrective Services officer allegedly responsible for his death.
Mr Johnstone, 43, was in the custody of Corrective Services NSW officers when he was shot outside Lismore Base Hospital on March 15, 2019.
He died shortly later from the injuries sustained during the shooting.
Last year the NSW Coroner referred Mr Johnstone's death to the Director of Public Prosecutions.
Following their investigation, the NSW Police last week officially charged the Corrective Services officer who fired the weapon with manslaughter, and they are due to face Lismore Local Court on March 29.
Mr Johnstone's family, who have been fighting for criminal proceedings to take place, were present at the inquest last year.
Upon learning of the charges laid against the officer, Mr Johnstone's partner Kirsty Pepper, his father George Johnstone and stepmother Jenny Johnstone have thanked police for investigating the incident.
"Dwayne was a much-loved partner, son and stepson," the Johnstone family said in a statement.
"The many people who loved and cared about him are pleased to see some accountability today for his untimely death.
"We thank everyone who has been involved in getting to this point.
"We will forever remember Dwayne as a funny, bubbly rascal who was a family man at heart. "He absolutely adored his partner Kirsty and would go out of his way to help people.
"He loved animals, enjoyed fishing, and lived life to the fullest.
"Anyone who met Dwayne would never forget him. He was always happy and shared that joy with others.
"We are doing our best to hold onto that joy every day."
CEO of the Aboriginal Legal Service NSW/ACT Karly Warner said the manslaughter charge was an "important step in the administration of justice".
"The Aboriginal Legal Service welcomes the historic news that a Corrective Services Officer has been charged with manslaughter over the death of Aboriginal man Dwayne Johnstone," Ms Warner said.
"More than 430 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have died in custody since the Royal Commission almost 30 years ago.
"While the majority of recommendations from the Royal Commission go unimplemented, we continue to see tragic and preventable deaths, including Dwayne's.
"Aboriginal people and justice advocates have long called for independent investigations of deaths in custody, transparency and accountability.
"We stand by Kirsty, George and Jenny, whose love for Dwayne and hunger for justice continues to be evident throughout this long process."