Friday, 12 December 2008

Police shoot teenager dead in stand-off

'Just a scared little boy'...Tyler Cassidy, who was shot dead.

Victorian police have shot dead a 15-year-old boy in Melbourne's inner north-east.

Police say they were called to Northcote Plaza around 9.40pm on Thursday and found a boy in the car park holding two knives.

Two police officers walked up to the boy and tried to speak with him.

When he continued acting aggressively police used capsicum spray but it had no effect.

[Why not call in professional help?]

It is believed the boy then [allegedly] approached one of the officers, waving the knives.

Police [allegedly] again tried to calm him but he continued to threaten them.

Merry Christmas

Police say it appears that three of the four officers at the scene then fired an unknown number of shots at the teenager, hitting him in the upper body and killing him.

Homicide squad detectives are now investigating.

It is [believed] the boy may have [allegedly] earlier stolen the knives from a shop inside the shopping centre.

Updated: 10:19am (AEDT)

Police accused of over-reacting

Victorian police have been accused of a heavy-handed use of force after three officers shot a 15-year-old boy dead in Melbourne's inner-east last night.

Julian Burnside QC, the immediate past president of Liberty Victoria, says the incident is a sad reminder of the old days of Victoria Police being too heavy-handed with guns.

"I must say, it's a very upsetting story, you've got a 15-year-old kid acting badly, he's got some knives, and you've got three policemen with pistols," he said.

"It doesn't sound like a fair match, to bring him down in a hail of bullets seems like an over-reaction.

"There may be more to it, we don't know yet, but I really do wonder why ... just one policeman might not have shot at his arm or shot at his leg.

"But for three police men to open fire and kill a boy who's just got a couple of knives, looks like an over-reaction."

Father Peter Norden from the Victorian Criminal Justice Coalition wants an independent investigation into the fatal shooting.

The Coalition represents more than 50 legal, academic and community service organisations involved with the criminal justice system.

Father Norden is warning against a "closed shop" investigation by police, to justify the use of deadly force.

"The use of capsicum spray and a violent confrontation is often the worst possible response to a young person displaying emotional or psychiatric symptoms," he said.

"The Victorian community calls for a more sophisticated response in dealing with disturbed individuals, particularly very young people.

"Community agencies working with disturbed young people deal with serious incidents of this kind every evening, without resorting to a violent response."

Updated 4:30pm (AEDT)

Family slams police over 15yo's death

The family and friends of the 15-year-old boy shot by police in the inner-east Melbourne suburb of Northcote last night say they are appalled by the actions of the officers involved.

Tyler Cassidy was shot multiple times by three police officers after he allegedly threatened them with two large knives.

In a statement released this afternoon, his family and friends said the four officers concerned acted unacceptably, and their lack of negotiation skills contributed to his death.

The statement says Tyler Cassidy "died alone, without his family by his side, gasping his last breath, he was only a scared little boy."

"The lack of negotiating skills at the scene of the shooting, contributed to the untimely death of our beautiful 15-year-old," the statement reads.

"The Northcote police were notified 30 minutes prior to the killing, and briefed completely on what had happened, including what he was wearing, and to look out for Tyler.

"The police according to our witnesses chased him, cornered him at the skate park in Northcote, he was surrounded and gunned down by four officers firing at least six or seven shots.

"Our eyewitness confirmed that Tyler patted her dog, was confronted by the police and sprayed with capsicum foam, then pursued to the skate park, surrounded and hunted down."

Tyler Cassidy's mother Shani says she will fight for justice in the case.

"I promise you my darling, I will fight for you as you were taken from me under the most horrific circumstances," she said.

"Why was he slayed [sic] to death when it was so unnecessary? Four officers were not capable of managing the situation? Now you have passed over I will speak for you and others like you."

The family says it is looking forward to a "serious and thorough investigation and inquest into why Tyler was killed."

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