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 +====== Australia Police Gun Down 15-Year-Old Boy ======
 +By Katrina Morrison
 +17 December 2008
 +Fifteen-year-old Tyler Cassidy was shot dead by police officers in Melbourne, Victoria last Thursday
 +night in a callous and brutal act. Four officers surrounded the agitated youth at a skate park in the
 +suburb of Northcote and killed him in a hail of at least six bullets. The shooting has sparked public
 +outrage and recalled the filthy record of Victorian police, who have become notorious for opening fire
 +on anyone perceived as a threat, including the young and mentally ill.
 +A full account of the events leading up to Tyler's death is yet to emerge. What is known so far is that
 +on Thursday evening the youth reportedly arrived at his home in a disturbed state, after having
 +possibly been assaulted on a train. He then walked to K-Mart, pulled two knives from their packaging
 +and stabbed items on the shelves. By around 9.30 p.m., several people had called the police. Four
 +officers quickly arrived on the scene; one reportedly used capsicum spray without effect. Tyler ran to
 +an adjoining skate park where he was again doused with a shot of capsicum spray before being shot dead when three of the four officers opened fire.
 +Police authorities immediately defended the officers involved, claiming that they had acted correctly
 +and had no choice but to shoot the youth. Greg Davies, a spokesman for the Police Association,
 +insisted: "These members behaved in a completely professional and appropriate way and in
 +accordance with their training." Davies noted that police guidelines state that whenever officers use
 +their guns they must aim for the victim's chest—effectively a shoot-to-kill policy. He contemptuously
 +brushed aside arguments that the priority should be to preserve life by aiming only to disarm or immobilise: "anyone who thinks that you can shoot a weapon out of someone's hand watches too
 +many spaghetti westerns, that's just the way it is."
 +There has been no satisfactory explanation as to why it was not possible for four trained adult police
 +officers to subdue the young boy without opening fire. One officer, apparently violating protocol,
 +fired a warning shot into the ground moments before Tyler was killed—contradicting the police line
 +that it was impossible to attempt to immobilise the boy by shooting at his arms or legs. And
 +according to a report in Tuesday's Herald Sun, one of the three officers who opened fire had indeed
 +aimed for Tyler's legs; he had several bullet wounds in his legs and chest.
 +There are many outstanding questions. Why did it take five days after the event for it to emerge that
 +one of the officers had initially attempted to subdue Tyler by shooting him in the legs rather than the
 +chest? Only three of the four officers involved fired on Tyler. Is this because, as the police now claim,
 +another officer was standing in the way, blocking the line of fire? Or was it because this officer judged
 +that resorting to gunfire was unnecessary?
 +There is also substantial evidence indicating that the police should never have permitted the situation
 +to develop to the point where they felt they had to open fire. Shani Cassidy, Tyler's mother, had
 +initially called the police when her son left the house to go to K-Mart to warn them he was in an
 +agitated state and to ask that she be contacted if he were found.
 +The Cassidy family released a statement the day after the police
 +killing. "The entire family and friends of Tyler Cassidy are appalled at the actions by the Victoria
 +Police last night," it read. "Their heavy-handedness, and lack of negotiating skills at the scene of the
 +shooting, contributed to the untimely death of our beautiful 15 year old. He was in the prime of his
 +life, had just started a new school, and was coping really well. He was a popular student with high
 +expectations and a good network of friends. 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 four officers concerned acted unacceptably by killing Tyler last night. He had a very gentle side,
 +striving to grow from a boy into a young man and would have been completely overwhelmed by the
 +situation. 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. We look forward to a serious and thorough investigation and inquest into why Tyler was killed and to the serious nature of
 +the attending officers' actions. It should have been dealt with differently and more compassionately,
 +but tragically resulted in Tyler's death that should have been avoided."
 +Hariet Stewart, who was in the park at the time, and saw Tyler running towards the skate park,
 +commented: "There appeared to be enough police cars coming and it doesn't justify how they would
 +have found themselves in a situation where they had to shoot a child. I think it is outrageous. He was
 +only a child."
 +The eyewitness referred to in the Cassidy family statement wrote a letter to the Age which was
 +published on Tuesday: "My partner and I were faced with someone with a weapon on Thursday
 +night. Tyler Cassidy passed us near the bottle shop in the car park. I did not, however, encounter
 +someone ‘violent and irrational' or ‘angry'. I cannot comment on Tyler's behaviour before, when he
 +was in the shopping centre, or after, when he was with the police, but I can remark on our encounter
 +with him minutes before he was shot. He bent and patted our dog. We did not feel threatened.
 +Nervous maybe. We saw an agitated boy who was crying out for some attention. We saw a kid who
 +needed to talk to someone... In terms of our own safety, we regard ourselves as lucky that we came
 +across Tyler near the bottle shop and were not coming from the park minutes later, when there was
 +police gunfire. We feel sadness and confusion over what has happened and our hearts go out to his
 +**Public outcry**
 +There has been enormous public sympathy for the youth and his family, expressed in letters to the
 +editor, talkback radio, and internet forums. Tyler's friends and family describe a popular and friendly
 +but troubled young person. His father died of cancer four years ago—a loss which, unsurprisingly,
 +had an immense and enduring effect on the boy.
 +Tyler's killing follows a similar incident in Greece, where the death of a 15-year-old boy at the hands
 +of the police has sparked ongoing street clashes, demonstrations, and anti-government strikes. There
 +is no doubt that this response has contributed to the extremely nervous reaction, in political and
 +media circles, to Tyler's tragic death. A central feature of the media coverage has been an outrageous
 +attempt to limit public sympathy for the dead youth and his family by portraying him as a neo-fascist.
 +A series of lurid stories has emerged detailing the activities of the "Southern Cross Soldiers"—a
 +hitherto unknown racist and nationalist group of youth with whom Tyler reportedly had some
 +Tyler's mother denied he was a member of the group. "Accusations that he was involved in a
 +nationalistic group are far-fetched," she said. "He was 15-years-old. He attended a multi-cultural
 +school. Many of Tyler's friends came to the house in tears. They are from all different nationalities
 +and they are also grieving."
 +The other line being promoted by both the media and the police is that the incident may have been
 +"suicide by cop". Tyler reportedly called the police himself when he was in K-Mart, and in one call
 +pretended to be a witness reporting that there was a man with a shotgun who had to be killed. Police
 +also claim Tyler said, "Kill me, I am going to kill you", during his brief confrontation with the four
 +officers. Whatever the truth of these reports, the "suicide by cop" story is nothing but an attempt by
 +police to absolve themselves of all responsibility. The "suicide by cop" alibi is typically invoked
 +whenever the police shoot mentally disturbed or agitated people, or those on alcohol or drugs—as
 +though the purported self-destructive comments of such people give the police carte blanche to kill
 +Victoria has a long history of fatal police shootings in which no officer is ever held to account. Since
 +1987 there have been 42 such killings, with 24 of these occurring in the seven years before 1995. A
 +large proportion of the victims have had a history of mental illness. In 1994 alone, police shot dead
 +nine people—six of whom were suffering from a mental illness. In the same year, state coroner Hal
 +Hallenstein delivered his findings on seven earlier fatal police shootings. He determined that no
 +police officer was criminally responsible, although they contributed to the outcome by positioning
 +themselves in such a way that they had no alternative but to shoot the victim.
 +The rate of police shootings has again escalated this year, with Tyler's death marking the fourth
 +shooting incident. Two men were killed earlier in the year, after allegedly attacking police.
 +In 1994, in response to mounting public indignation at the carnage, the state government
 +commissioned a report that recommended cops be given capsicum spray, supposedly because it
 +would provide an alternative to existing lethal weapons. The spray was introduced in 1996. Far from
 +representing an alternative to firearms, however, it has become an additional weapon used widely by
 +police as a form of punishment or to exact compliance even where there is no threat of violence.
 +In the aftermath of Tyler's killing the police are again demanding greater powers and weaponry—this
 +time taser guns. Tasers electrocute the victim by delivering a 50,000-volt charge through metal barbs
 +which hook into the skin of the victim. Data produced by Amnesty International has linked tasers to
 +152 deaths in the United States between 2001 and 2006. At present, only a special paramilitary unit
 +within Victoria Police, the Special Operations Group, trained to act with extreme force, is armed with
 +tasers. Equipping all police officers with the weapon would represent a significant escalation of their
 +repressive powers and would almost certainly lead to more deaths.
 +Other Deaths By Police
 +  * William John Watkins - Thursday, 2 February , 2006  12:40:00
 +  * Roberto Laudisio Curti - 21 on March 18 2012 - Sydnet CBD
 +  * Tyler Cassidy (article here) 15 Friday December 12, 2008 - Melbourne
 +  * Cameron Doomadgee, Daniel Yock, TJ Hickey
australia_police_gun_down_15-year-old_boy.txt · Last modified: 2020/02/17 22:48 (external edit)