Lachlan Smith Death – Obituary, Cause Of Death: The father of a teenage boy, who died after colliding with an unmarked police car in Sydney’s inner-city, is calling for an independent investigation into the incident.
Warning: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers are advised that this story contains the name and image of a person who has died. Sixteen-year-old Jai Wright died in hospital shortly after he suffered serious head injuries when he was thrown from a motorbike at a busy intersection in Alexandria early on Saturday morning.
The bike was allegedly stolen along with a black Mercedes, both of which had been spotted by a police patrol on King Street in Newtown half an hour before the incident Police seized the Mercedes and the motorbike shortly after the collision and arrested another 16-year-old boy in nearby Eveleigh, who was later charged with car theft.
Lachlan Wright described his son as a “proud Aboriginal boy” who seemed to “get along with everyone”. The family has given the ABC permission to use the boy’s name and image “No-one really had a bad thing to say about him,” Mr. Wright said, “We will never move on without Jai. He will always be with us in our thoughts every day.”
Mr. Wright described two meetings he had as his son lay in a critical condition in Royal Prince Alfred Hospital. The first, he said, was with a senior police officer who told him that his son was being pursued by police before the unmarked police car turned in front of him, causing him to fall off the motorbike.
Mr. Wright said he then had a meeting with a police investigator who told him there had been no police pursuit and that his son had lost control of the motorbike before running into the unmarked police car which was parked on the road. “We have been given inconsistent information by police as to what caused Jai’s death,” Mr. Wright said.
“Who do we believe now? What is the truth? We want to know the truth.” Mr. Wright said he felt disrespected by the investigator, given the “inconsistencies” in his version of events, compared with those of the senior police officer.
A critical incident has been declared, with Sydney City Police investigating the circumstances surrounding the crash. The police watchdog, the Law Enforcement Conduct Commission, has announced it is “independently monitoring the [police] investigation of the critical incident … to ensure public confidence in the investigation”.
Jai’s family is calling for an independent investigation at arms length from the NSW police force.
“Any parent wants to know how their little boy has died,” Mr. Wright said. “To be an independent investigation, you can’t be a police officer. You can’t be a police officer investigating other police officers. That just doesn’t make sense to me. “That’s my kid. I am never going to see him again. I just want to know the truth.”