As Gordon Copeland's family grieve following the identification of his body, found in the Gwydir River during a search near Moree, NSW Police have asked the community to "have faith" in their officers.
"Gordon was deeply loved. He was a son, father, partner, brother, cousin and nephew," said Lesley Fernando.
As Mr Copeland's aunty, she has spoken out on behalf of his mum Narelle, heavily pregnant partner Josephine, and other family members, saying they'll remember him as a happy and bubbly young man.
Mr Copeland's remains were found on day two of a three-day operation organised to locate the 22-year-old Gomeroi father, after he was last seen entering the river on July 10 following an alleged attempt by police to speak with him.
"He was excited to welcome another child into the world later this year and we are devastated that his kids will grow up without their dad," Ms Fernando stated.
But the family still have questions surrounding what happened before his disappearance and subsequent death.
In NSW, all deaths in police operations are subject to a coronial inquiry. Currently, the Oxley Police District are conducting an independent investigation into what happened on July 10.
"We hope the coronial inquest will give us the answers we deserve. We are looking forward to seeking justice for Gordon," Ms Fernando said.
The Aboriginal Legal Service (ALS) will represent Gordon's family in this process, with acting CEO Nadine Miles saying no one should die like Mr Copeland did.
"We are deeply saddened and furious that another Aboriginal person - a young man of just 22 - has been ripped from his family," Ms Miles said.
Independent investigators from Oxley Police District are reviewing, interviewing and examining all the material to prepare a report for the Coroner, a report that the public will be able to view according to New England Region Commander Superintendent Steve Laksa.
Speaking to the media as the third search started, he revealed details of the night including the "significant conditions" junior police had endured.
He says how the incident will be dealt with, and the final outcome, will depend on what the Coroner declares.
"The brief will be compiled for the Coroner, and I am quite open in that being open and owned by community members," Supt. Laksa said.
Supt. Laksa said he hadn't seen the footage himself, but asked the community to have "faith" in the local officers and the police as a whole.
"It was 2.30 in the morning, it was over eight police that had responded to assist," he said, revealing never-heard-before details.
He said the property owners had taken the officers back to their vehicles from the river.
"The police were not only wet, cold, covered in mud, and suffering from the extreme conditions they were exposed to on the night, and trying to do their best to locate someone who may have been in the water - they endured significant conditions," Supt. Laksa explained.
"As I've said to family members... police who were there on the night had come out of the academy two years, 12 months and two years [ago], and were very junior police in remote location to do their best to keep the community safe."
He asked for the community to have faith in the police who attended, and to "have faith in the police in Moree who are still responding to jobs after jobs after jobs in the local community to do their best".
Ms Miles said the family are pushing to see the incident declared as a 'police pursuit' so as to declare Mr Copeland's death as "a death in police custody".
"[Gordon] is one of 17 Aboriginal people, who died either in custody or in a police operation, whose coronial inquests we are currently acting in. We don't want this work to be necessary.
"No one should be suffering senseless, lonely deaths in rivers, on streets, or in prison cells."
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