News State NSW News Corrections officer charged after shooting escaping inmate

Corrections officer charged after shooting escaping inmate

dwayne johnstone manslaughter
Dwayne Johnstone was being escorted out of the hospital when he tried to escape. Photo: Supplied
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WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers are advised that this article contains the image of a person who has died.

A NSW Corrective Services officer has been charged with the manslaughter of a man who was shot outside Lismore Base Hospital in 2019.

Dwayne Johnstone, 43, was shot while attempting to escape custody on a visit to the hospital about 7.30pm on March 15.

The Indigenous man was in handcuffs and ankle cuffs when he allegedly elbowed and pushed an officer and ran.

As Johnstone crossed the street, one Corrective Services officer fired three shots.

The final shot struck Johnstone in the right side of his back, causing him to fall to the ground.

Johnstone received urgent medical attention, but an attempt at resuscitation was unsuccessful and he died later that day.

Johnstone’s mother Kerry Crawford-Shanahan told the ABC said was glad someone was being held to account but she had little faith in the justice system.

“Thank God someone’s going to be accountable for the first time in all these deaths in custody. Black, white or whatever,” she said.

“[But] it’s not going to bring him back.”

dwayne johnstone manslaughter
Dwayne Johnstone was shot outside Lismore Base Hospital. Photo: ABC

She recalled how her son was “shot down like a dog in handcuffs and shackles”.

“I’ll never get over it. I’ll never ever. I still think the system is rotten.

“I’m happy that something is being done for my son and for all the others and let’s hope that nothing like this ever ever happens again.”

Johnstone had been denied bail on an assault charge earlier that day and suffered a possible epileptic fit in his cell before being brought to Lismore Hospital for treatment.

dwayne johnstone manslaughter
Dwayne Johnstone’s mother, Kerry Crawford (right) is hoping for answers from the inquest. Photo: ABC

In 2020, the NSW Coroner asked the Director of Public Prosecutions to examine the death, which she described as a “tragedy”.

Counsel assisting Peggy Dwyer said statements provided by witnesses said they heard: “Correctional officer … stop, stop, stop or I’ll shoot.”

The court also heard a witness outside the hospital at the time described the male as having “particularly good speed when shackled … and was obviously fit”.

Following extensive inquiries, the 57-year-old corrections officer attended Lismore Police Station on Friday. He was issued with a court attendance notice for the offence of manslaughter.

The officer is due to face Lismore Local Court on March 29.