Tyler Cassidy

‘Did they have to shoot my boy’
Chris Griffith
The Weekend Australian Magazine
August 8–9, 2009

Tyler Cassidy was only 15 years old, a boy who wanted to play the tough guy but hadn’t started shaving yet. A gangly teenager who was still young enough to tell his mum he loved her every night before bed. A kid who posted dumb things on his MySpace page and had begun to flirt online with some bone-headed racists. Around 9pm on December 11 last year this same boy, brimming with an inexplicable, implacable rage, went careering through a northern Melbourne shopping centre just on closing time.

Brandishing two kitchen knives he’d stolen from Kmart, he terrified the last straggling shoppers and staff. Tyler was freaking out and although he didn’t know it, he only had 40 minutes to live.

For those who haven’t heard of him, Tyler Cassidy holds the awful distinction of being the youngest Australian to be shot dead by police.

His funeral, held a week later, was devastatingly bleak. Angry, bereft kids clung to each other and to their parents, weeping as they filed past their friend’s open white coffin. Shani Cassidy then did something no mother should ever have to do: she helped screw the lid shut on her son.

Any child’s funeral leaves mourners searching for answers; eight months after Tyler’s, the questions are mounting up.

THE DAY TYLER HAD HIS FATAL MELTDOWN began well enough. But it wasn’t the grinning kid who walked out the door that morning to hang out with his new girlfriend and mates who returned that evening. Instead, an angry, dishevelled boy stormed through the house. “He came home very upset, very angry, and went to his room, went on the computer and just yelled, ‘Go away, I’m angry’, when I tried to find out what was going on,” Shani says. “His shirt was ripped and covered in blood and there were marks on his body.” He looked, as one eyewitness later told police, as if he’d been through a war zone. He wouldn’t be contained and his mother had to wrest some knives off him. And then he was gone. “I’m going for a walk, Mum,” he shouted as he flew out the door to meet a friend at the nearby skate park.

Shani is one of those mothers who used to believe that if you were in trouble, you found the nearest policeman. She taught her two sons this golden rule. That’s why she phoned the police for help. She’d had problems with Tyler before with his sudden rages, but nothing came close to this. She remembers exactly what she said to the young constable at the Northcote police station who took her call. “I gave him a very detailed description of Tyler, his age, what he was wearing, the mental state he was in, and my last words to the policeman were, ‘If you see Tyler on your rounds tonight, can you please bring him home safe’.” An hour later, the boy lay dead on a concrete skateboard rarnp. Five police bullets had gone clean through him: two in his right leg, one below his right elbow and the fatal shot through his chest which caused his right lung to fill with blood and very soon after, drown him. A sixth bullet grazed his leg.

In all, 10 shots were fired at Tyler that night, but only one bullet was ever found.

By the time Tyler had left the Northcote Plaza shopping centre, the police had begun receiving emergency calls. Two were from Tyler, who allegedly told police he was planning to kill people. The Northcote police station is just 100 metres from the Plaza and the park where Tyler was heading. According to eyewitness accounts, he threatened a driver with a knife by banging on the windscreen. He also allegedly made threats outside a liquor store on his way to the park. But a passer-by who was there sent a letter to The Age four days after the shooting and presented a different picture: “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.”

It was over in minutes.

At 9.35pm, four police officers in two divisional vans arrived. They approached Tyler on the outskirts of the All Nations Park and asked him to drop the knives. He turned and ran and they chased him, spraying him twice on the back and side of the head with capsicum foam. Tyler ended up on the top of the skate ramp, staring down at three, maybe four police officers who were about 15 metres away at the bottom of the ramp. Police claim one of them was cornered, and this will be the subject of much investigation at the inquest.

A friend of Tyler’s was the only other person in the park; he had retreated to safety on the edge of the nearby basketball court, but saw the police open fire. It was 9.40pm.

POLICE INSIST THEY WERE FACED with a dangerous, out-of-control teenager who threatened the safety of one of their officers, leaving them no alternative but to shoot. At a press conference the day after Tyler’s death, Assistant Commissioner Tim Cartwright said his four officers two women and two men did everything possible before firing the fatal shots. “They have reacted as we would want them to,” he said. “They’ve tried everything: they’ve tried talking, they’ve tried OC [capsicum] foam, they’ve tried backing off. But they’ve had to protect themselves and members of the public, so ultimately they’ve had no choice.” But The Weekend Australian Magazine understands that there is deep disquiet within senior ranks over the incident. “The whole thing smacks of panic, no meaningful negotiation, just police barking orders at a disturbed kid then getting themselves into a situation very rapidly where they believed they had no option but to reach for their guns,” says one senior officer.

It’s not a new scenario in Victoria. Since 1987, 48 people have been shot dead by police, a figure that is well above that of other Australian states. Only 10 days ago the independent body charged with overseeing Victoria Police, the Office of Police Integrity, issued a devastating critique of Victoria Police’s gun culture. It concluded that the state’s police are not trained properly to handle volatile situations and have a heavy reliance on firearms, with a tendency to “go in hard”.

Deputy Commissioner Kieran Walshe told The Weekend Australian Magazine that Victoria Police accepted that not enough focus had been given to teaching its officers how to de-escalate conflict. But, he said, the force stood by its decision not to introduce Taser stun guns. “It’s our opinion that it is better to teach our members better verbal skills, to create space and time when they get caught in a conflict so that they can get back-up, rather than give them another piece of equipment,” Walshe said. He would not comment on the Tyler Cassidy case.

There was much speculation at the time of his death that Tyler Cassidy wanted to die in what is known as “suicide by cop”. Police said the boy yelled: “Kill me, I’m going to kill you” as they ordered him to put down his weapons. But his mother denies he had a death wish, or that he was still so overwhelmed with grief at losing his father four years earlier that he didn’t care if he lived or died. “Tyler had come through that,” she says. “He was looking forward to our family Christmas party in three days’ time, and the holiday he was about to spend in Queensland with his cousins. He’d been through terrible times, but he’d survived it.” She says Tyler had no coping mechanism to deal with his pain immediately after his father’s death from cancer and later had to be hospitalised. “Grief, anxiety and sudden loss was what the doctors told me at the time. He was just overwhelmed. He lay on his father’s body for three hours after Ian had died, saying, ‘It’s just the medicine Mummy, he’ll wake up’.”

There’s no doubt Tyler was a troubled kid, who battled with anger issues. He was expelled from his high school last year. “He lashed out and kicked a door, the door hit a stool and it fell on the teacher’s shin,” his mother says. “He had only been at his new school, The Island, for a short time before he died, but that’s where he started turning his life around.” Tyler had been hooked up online with some pretty dubious characters in the months before be was killed. Much has been made of his links to the white supremacist group Southern Cross Soldiers, although his family insist he was no neo-Nazi, just an immature teenager dabbling in stuff he didn’t understand. “Tyler had friends from all ethnic backgrounds who were devastated by his death,” his mother says.

Whatever pushed Tyler Cassidy over the edge that day, one thing is certain. It wasn’t drugs. Sources close to the investigation confirm Tyler had been drinking that day – but he had no drugs in his system, contrary to suspicions. (A woman who saw him that night at the shopping centre told the media that the boy must have been on ice. It resonated with the public. Why else would a kid, even one with a shaved head and pierced ears, be waving around knives and screaming ‘Kill me, kill me’ at the local coppers?) For Tyler’s family, this question is crucial.

They want to know what happened earlier that evening to bring him so undone. “The police told me they have footage of him reading the newspaper on the train on his way home after his girlfriend got off a few stops earlier,” Shani says. Tyler got off at Alphington and in the few minutes it took for him to walk to the bus stop something occurred, Shani believes, that set the whole tragic chain of events in motion. “They [police] say it is irrelevant and have refused to investigate it. Something violent happened to him and I want to know what, because it triggered his meltdown,” she says. “Do I have to go and stand down there with a placard with Tyler ’s photo on it and a caravan, appealing for witnesses?”

A NURSE, WHO FOUND HERSELF a single mother to two boys aged 11 and 15 when her husband died, Shani Cassidy is an articulate, determined woman who has handled herself with real dignity since her son’s death. If they haven’t worked it out already, Victoria Police and the Brumby Government should understand that she is not going to allow her son’s death to become a footnote in the state’s inglorious reign as the police shooting capital of Australia. “It’s a bit awkward when a child is killed by the police, isn’t it?” Shani says. Her bitterness is only marginally tempered by a mother’s sorrow. “My son has been put on trial, his character smeared; but the police got the shock of their lives when they met me… and discovered I wasn’t some deadbeat mother with no capacity to fight. What about those officers? Did they have problems at home that night that made them behave in the way they did? Did they have anger management issues? I want to know why I can’t look into the window of their lives that week and see if there isn’t something there that might explain why they killed my son.”

Detectives from the homicide squad are conducting the investigation into Tyler’s death on behalf of the State Coroner, Jennifer Coate.

Shani’s lawyers have petitioned Judge Coate to remove Victoria Police from the investigation and instead ask the Office of Police Integrity (OPI) to take over. “In our submission what cannot be explained away or justified is the fundamental perceived and or actual conflict of interest where Victoria Police officers investigate their fellow officers in relation to fatal police shootings,” the letter to the coroner states. Judge Coate has rejected this submission, as has the OPI. Its director, Michael Strong, says he sees no need for such an intervention as his office will monitor the police investigation and liaise with the coroner prior to the inquest. No date has been set for the inquest but it now seems certain it won’t he held until early next year, as Judge Coate has decided to hold it under the new Victorian Coroners Act, which doesn’t come into effect until November. The homicide squad still hasn’t handed over its brief of evidence, even though it was supposed to be ready in February, then in May. It is understood that more than 100 witness statements have been taken. The family, after initially being told by Victoria Police that they would be “kept in the loop”, have heard nothing for months.

The Cassidys also claim police have treated them with scant respect. They have not been offered counselling or any other support, although Victoria Police has now agreed to pay their funeral expenses. In a bulletin posted on the police website, it was claimed that no offer had been made to the family due to the “sensitivity associated with the incident and an understanding that the family would not wish to be contacted by Victoria Police.” A spokeswoman told The Weekend Australian Magazine that police are now in the process of speaking to the family regarding “what practical support they would like to receive”. The family is still waiting.

THE CALLOUSNESS SHOWN TO THE Cassidys began, they claim, the moment they arrived at All Nations Park. Shani, her elder son, Blake, and her fiance, Greg Taylor, were all out looking for Tyler when a text came from a friend saying an ambulance was heading towards the shopping centre.

A police roadblock had been set up, so they sat under a gum tree for two hours on the other side of the cordon. “I kept asking, ‘What’s going on?’ and the police officers would say, ‘We’re waiting for authorisation; we haven’t got clearance to tell you anything yet’,” says Shani.

Blake tried to break through the cordon but was slammed to the ground and handcuffed. “He was sobbing and shaking and they left him in the dirt for about half an hour like that.” In the distance an ambulance light was flashing, and all the while police kept pouring into the park. “Finally two police officers came and took me alone to an unmarked car,” says Shani. “The policewoman patted me on the back and said, ‘There’s been a shooting and Tyler is now deceased’.” They then broke the news to Greg and Blake. Some time after midnight, the three were taken back to the Preston police station where two of the officers involved in the shooting were based and separately interviewed. They claim they were given no option, nor were they asked if they would like a lawyer or friend present while they made their statements.

“The shock of Tyler dying, the fact the police had killed him; we’d have liked some time to absorb what had happened. I’d never been in a police station before in my life. We didn’t know our rights,” Shani says. “I wish we could have been given the chance to just go home and be together, take in what had happened and come back the next day.” It is worth noting that according to Victoria Police protocols, officers who are involved in a police shooting are afforded a number of basic rights immediately following the event. These include access to a police psychologist, legal representation, contact with family and having a friend present at the interview. They are then taken home and follow-up assistance is offered.

Shani, Greg and Blake drove themselves home in the early hours of the morning after giving statements that they now know were made while they were numb with shock. A police car followed them. The purpose was not to see them home safely but to seize evidence.

An autopsy was performed on Tyler’s body the next morning. An hour before, Shani was finally allowed to see her youngest son, although only through a window. She found out 13 weeks later, when she received a copy of the pathologist’s report, that his body had lain (“like a piece of meat,” she says) on the concrete skate ramp from 9.40pm until the pathologist officially declared him dead at 4.15am the next day. “I was horrified. I had wanted to get a priest to him that night, I’d wanted to see him, but I wasn’t allowed. I just wanted to give him a cuddle, but then to discover your baby has been left there in the dark and cold, while I was at home, well, it was just cruel and inhumane.”

In February, Shani Cassidy wrote a letter of complaint to the OPI about her family’s treatment at the hands of Victoria Police, both on the night her son died and in the months that followed. Six weeks ago she finally got a response: “…the result of the inquiries conducted has been recorded at this office as Not Resolved,” says the letter from John Ashby in the Professional Standards Assurance Unit.

It concludes by saying that Victoria Police had advised that no further action would be taken.

The OPI also has decided to close the file.

There is, however, an oblique reference towards the end of the letter that recommendations have been made by the officer who conducted the inquiry “in respect to circumstances where family liaison, support and communication are required”. So maybe Shani Cassidy has achieved something for the next family of a police-shooting victim after all.

They just won’t tell her what.

YOUR article (“Did they have to shoot my boy”, The Weekend Australian Magazine, 8-9/8) raises important issues but the final two paragraphs may create a wrong impression. The reference to the closure of an Office of Police Integrity file is not the file that directly relates to the shooting of Tyler Cassidy. It relates to certain surrounding events.

As your news article reported, the OPI is actively monitoring the investigation of Tyler’s death and is in a position to assist the Coroner if there are particular matters of concern. The police investigation, when completed, will be fully reviewed by the OPI.

Michael Strong
Director, Office of Police Integrity Victoria

About @ndy

I live in Melbourne, Australia. I like anarchy. I don't like nazis. I enjoy eating pizza and drinking beer. I barrack for the greatest football team on Earth: Collingwood Magpies. The 2024 premiership's a cakewalk for the good old Collingwood.
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59 Responses to Tyler Cassidy

  1. Racer X says:

    The shameful way in which you, Darp and Cam, among others, slandered this family after Tyler’s death will never be forgotten, may your words haunt you, like Poe’s Telltale Heart.

  2. @ndy says:

    The shameless fashion in which trolls like you make baseless accusations against myself, among others, is repetitious to the point of boredom.

    Like liquid gets into this chalk.

  3. Dr. Cam says:

    Can you give an example of an instance in which I slandered either Cassidy or the Cassidy family, Racer X? Feel free to put your name to your accusation.

    Besides answering media questions about who the Southern Cross Soldiers were (the Herald Sun was alerted to his membership by some of his friends) I have made few public statements about Tyler. This Crikey article is one: http://tinyurl.com/tc-crikey . I have discussed his shooting twice on 3CR, once in a discussion about TASERs (I felt that police should have been able to disarm him without shooting him with anything), and once briefly in a discussion about Jim Saleam, and his delusion that I colluded with the police to have Cassidy shot.

  4. wesley cook says:

    Yes, I thought the piece in The Weekend Australian was enlightening. The cop shop is metres from the skate rink where Tyler Cassidy was shot 5 times by police: two were women and another was a male. The male shooting cop used to teach music at a leading private boys’ school, I believe. He chose policing, reportedly, because it’s a “better” job.

  5. Adrian Mole says:

    Well, you can imagine the furore if he’d shot one of his students.

  6. Dayv says:

    Thanks a lot for posting this @ndy. I’ve been following this case since last year, and have been waiting for more info since the shooting actually took place, until this article I hadn’t seen an update anywhere. So thanks! Good article, makes me want to read Blue Army again.

    Off the pigs.

  7. Mike says:

    Dayv, you are are truly an idiot. No police officer wants to kill anyone. Off the pigs hey? Shows just how stupid you are. Police are people. They have families, kids and lives outside policing. Police have a right like any other community member to return home. Tyler made his choice. A horrible, tragic choice. The only real question that has to be asked is WHAT has the family done? Tyler’s family needs to face the very harsh reality that they have been the biggest influence in his life. They failed to help Tyler and they can hardly expect the police to solve their family’s and Tyler issues. 15 years of issues. It’s tragic they can’t see that. Put in that situation I would’ve shot to. I want to see my family again, I have that right. No one forced Tyler to steal knives, threaten people and then police who just wanted him to drop the knives so they could work out what was going on. Tyler made his choice.

  8. r says:

    you got most of this bullshit wrong

  9. Grant says:

    This is all bullshit tyler was one of the nicest guys around, all this shit about him rampaging through the shops just wasnt him, it was all a story the police made up.

    They shot him dead! They shot him for no reason despite they are fucking cowards. All tylers friends love him, and he will never be forgotten.

  10. liz says:

    Mike, have you not considered the mistakes that a 15 year old boy makes? He should have been entitled to live to make more mistakes. 3 minutes of negotiation is not deep. They did not try everything as the police state. 10 shots fired is excessive to disarm a subject. I believe the statement from the senior police official – it seems to be a case of panic on behalf of the four officers involved. But we will not know more until the inquest. What is clear is that police have a bad history of fatally injurying aggressors with mental instability (or mental illness). More needs to be done… and finally it’s not about you.

  11. Kelly Wilson says:

    You live in a fantasy land Grant & have little to no concept of reality.

  12. gnwp says:

    Mike, cops are tops!
    Just because they abuse their power all the time doesn’t mean they don’t have families too.
    Go police!

    btw… ACAB 😉

  13. Go cops! says:

    Yea Mike.

    I agree. If i was one of four cops being threatened by a 15 year old with 2 knives, whose mother had called previously to warn me that he was in an agitated state and begging me to bring her son home safe, I definately would have shot him 3-4 times. No doubt.

  14. Rocco says:

    Tyler was one of my best mates, i knew him before he made the mistakes he did, but if your telling me that shooting a small boy multiple times is acceptable then fuck you. they should of shot him in the legs, he would of been on the floor crying for his mum, instead he is in a coffin. by the way the police did fuck all to help him, oc spray only works when you hit them in the eyes not the back of the head. thanks cops, now my best mate is dead and i never got to say goodbye.

  15. Justin says:

    All those who side with the cops are wrong. The police KNEW from the moment they joined the police force that there might come a time when [they] must put other lives before their own, even if they have a family… You DONT join the police force for fun, or because it will make an exciting and adventurous career. You KNOW the risks before you join, so if you are to scared you may not come home one day and see your family, DONT JOIN! NOBODYS FORCING YOU! Theyre just employing too many trigger happy nutters who are just joining the police force for adventure.

  16. Justin says:

    Just because someone has a knife, doesnt give a policeman the right to pull out a much much more deadly weapon like a coward. If I was in the boys position, I would have killed them all since they would have done the exact same thing to me.

  17. BoB says:

    The only time a policeman should pull out a gun is when a madman with a machine gun is hosing down civilians. NOT WHEN A BOY HALF THEIR AGE AND SIZE IS CORNERED AND HOLDING A KNIFE.

  18. corruption and justice says:

    One shot in the leg would have taken the boy down that’s true, however, police are taught to shoot opponents in the largest area of their body (chest) that is true. Nevertheless, the point is that 4 police officers could not disarm a 15 year old boy without pulling out their gun is absolutely shameful for the police. Worst case scenario, 1 shot would have been more than enough to put the boy on the floor and i mean if only 1 shot was fired the boy may still have the chance of being alive right now…but 6 shots were fired and no warning shots were fired, this is indeed an excessive use of force by the police.
    Corruption exists everywhere amongst police and they often misuse and abuse authority.
    As a member of the community i gain absolutely no trust in the police, their efficiency is absolutely appalling and this is enhanced by the unit that im currently studying ‘Policing and Society’, which partly talks about corruption, the excessive use of force, police discretion, abuse of authority and power by police.
    Perhaps the important point here is that recruitment is important in the police department, and that ethics and morality are criteria need to be considered carefully during recruitment.

    And i absolutely agree with you Justin.

  19. john smith says:

    tyler cassidy is [abuse]

  20. Absolute injustice says:

    I have sat here and read all of the posts above and what people have read and judged about Tyler. Thank you to those who knew him and have defended him and to those who have placed ignorant judgements I pray that you should never be in his families shoes to know their pain. No one should ever experience this regardless of the circumstances. The bottom line is he was a 15 year old wonderful boy who was so loved by his family. He suffered the loss of his dearly loved father and like any normal human being had difficulty dealing with that, but had the support of his beautiful mother, brother, family and friends. He did not come from a home of neglect or what some would consider lower class.

    People are talking about Tyler as though he is a hardened criminal that could not be apprehended by 4 highly trained police officers. For goodness sake so help you god those with teenagers who live in Victoria who are supposedly protected by a police force that is not able to have 4 of their officers apprehend a small 15 year old boy or even make the choice to fire one shot in the leg to get him down and then do what is required to apprehend him. It absolutely infuriates me that there are grown men that will have a standoff with police or take innocent people as hostages and manage to walk away the next morning.

    Tyler had a future to look forward to but this was taken away from him because he got angry and didn’t know how to deal with it. Does this justify firing 10 shots at him and leaving him to die alone. Yes police are there to protect and serve but where was Tyler’s protection when face to face with those very people we teach our children to trust when they are in trouble. This tragedy has well and truly changed my trust in the police who were so trigger happy that evening and then to be so heartless in their treatment to his mother and brother when all Blake wanted to do was to try to get to his little brother.

    Before people believe everything they hear and read in the papers take a step back and avoid the harsh judgment. Those police officers did get to go home that night to their loved ones while Tyler’s body remained alone overnight in the cold at the skate park. Yes we need justice but with justice comes a duty of care not only for the community but for the young lives the police are encountering. If it is so difficult for police officers to handle today youth and everything they are faced with then provide the appropriate training and tasers so no more bullets are used on such young lives with so much potential. His life was taken unnecessarily. Rest in peace Tyler. You are dearly loved by so many xoxo.

  21. azza says:

    all the people paying out on tyler your fuckin retarded and dont no what ya talkin about aspecial the cunt who wrote the article he was a great kid my best mate. i no was with him just before everything happened. got any problems dont be some fuck wit and post shit here email me at [email protected]. peace out keyboard commandos

  22. azza says:

    and this article should be deleted because of the amount of false facts in it

  23. @ndy says:

    g’day azza,

    what are the false facts in the article?

  24. tom says:

    You can all sit back and contemplate the events that took place.
    fact is this.
    we are in Australia we should not have had to bury our friend because an authority took it upon them selves to gun down a 15 year old in the name of public safety.
    police are as corrupt as the criminals they are chasing.
    fuck you all.
    rest in peace Tyler you inspire us to get raw each time it comes to it.
    Much love from the ICN family.

  25. Michael Garcia says:

    Those cops deserve the dealth [sic] penalty.

  26. northcote mum says:

    Tyler’s death is a sickening tragedy. There is no question that the police failed in their duty to protect the community. No serious attempt was made to assist the boy. They knew he was self-destructive and traumatised – why didn’t they call a CAT team? There was no warning shot. They had his mother’s number, they could have called her. No member of the public was in the vicinity in harm’s way.

    If 4 police are incapable of disarming a small teenage boy then what are they capable of doing?

    I live in Northcote and am a mother of 2 children. This case has taught me that if my children are ever in trouble I should avoid calling the police – that is a scary situation to be in.

  27. shaun says:

    Why couldnt they hav just shot him in the legs, he would hav dropped making him an easy target to tackle and arrest, on the flip side if i was about to be attacked by some kid with a knife and i had a family i wanted to go home to…well…u do the math. Would you let him stab you?

  28. Drew says:

    He got what he deserved.

    Fact is that he was brandishing knives in the GENERAL PUBLIC and put others at risk. Who knew what that mentally unstable little **** could have been capable of doing?

    Why should myself, family or anybody be put at risk by ANY violent unstable low life regardless of their age or cause[?]

    Reasons for his behavior prior to the incident has no bearing to the fact that he was there at that point of time as a dangerous threat.

    People should not be pointing the finger at the police but at the dysfunction that put him in that situation in the first place.

    If you’re inspired by a knife wielding looser [sic] then you are no better.

    Stop pampering violence and the perpetrator there are too many excuses.

    To the fools a 15 year old with a weapon is just as dangerous as a 50 year old with a weapon so why should it be seen or treated any differently.

    Good on the police and keep up the good work.

  29. CLS says:

    Drew – completely agree with you. Why should the cops risk their own lives when some […] kid is threatening to kill them? His mother claims he was just a little boy – of course conveniently forgetting he was brandishing 2 stolen knives and had been drinking during the day. The police acted appropriately and I for one applaud their behaviour.

  30. Lumpen says:

    Shaun wrote:

    Why couldnt they hav just shot him in the legs, he would hav dropped making him an easy target to tackle and arrest,

    From this in today’s Age:

    ‘According to Dods, he discharged a single shot into the ground as a warning,” Ms Ellis said. ”Tyler kept advancing and Dods said that he was extremely fearful for his safety.”

    She said Sergeant Dods said he fired another two shots into Tyler’s thighs. ”According to Dods, as Tyler continued to advance he took aim at his chest area and kept firing until he went to the ground.”

    Presuming that the cops are telling the truth, they did both fire a warning shot and shots to wound, and previous to that, capsicum spray.

    Personally, I don’t think the police should be armed, let alone exist. Tyler’s death was avoidable, but police aren’t superhuman. The fact that he was running with a group of absolute dickheads (the Southern Cross Soldiers) that likely lacked the life skills to help someone like Tyler who, apparently, had deep personal issues, probably played a minor role in his downfall. I doubt that they see it that way though.

    Applauding police for killing a child is a bit shit, even if the kid is in a racist group.

  31. Sumo says:

    A lot of people here need a reality check on firearms and real violence. It isn’t Hollywood where the cop can shoot precisely to a millimetre and aim for the knee cap. Gunshots in the real world can go all over the place and as a cop, I can tell you Police receive just about a week’s firearms training before going on the road. Hardly enough to make you a crack shot. Police are trained that if you see an edged weapon, draw the gun, simple.

    Someone like Tyler who was pumped on adrenalin and possibly drugs may not even feel a single bullet going through him. Unlike movies where people die in 1 second after being shot, in reality a motivated/crazy person who’s shot can still react for 15-20 seconds before going down. That’s enough time for Tyler to cover the distance and stab the 1st cop he saw. 10 rounds fired at him isn’t much considering its easy to fire 2-3 rounds in a second. With 3 Police firing, that’s not much. Add to it the fact that shots miss the mark too.

    The real problem was his inadequate upbringing, not the Police. If some nutjob with a knife rushes me, I’d do the same. This kid had a history of offending and it’s only a matter of time before guys like him join gangs and start armed robberies, assaults etc and harm/kill some innocent people. Good on our boys and girls in blue.

  32. Sumo says:

    @Lumpen, so you don’t think the Police should exist? Are you going to respond to jobs of armed robberies, assaults, domestic violence, thefts, checks on welfare, trespassers on premises, vehicle collisions, disturbances? Didn’t think so… next time you get on the net to post some nonsense, try and use some brain matter beforehand.

  33. George says:

    Shoot him in the legs? Are you people kidding? Stop watching crap American TV and move back to reality world. That is the dumbest thing for so many reasons, and if you don’t understand that, then you have no idea about what is involved in a Police shooting and should probably shut your mouth.

    And didn’t they shoot him in the legs? Didn’t work, did it? That’s because in the real world there is such things as excited delirium that is not covered in crap TV shows. This, and being drunk, and being mentally unstable, can add to the ability to overcome non-fatal shooting injuries.

    Justin says May 30, 2010 at 11:04 pm:

    Just because someone has a knife, doesnt give a policeman the right to pull out a much much more deadly weapon like a coward. If I was in the boys position, I would have killed them all since they would have done the exact same thing to me.

    Justin. 1) It does actually give Police the right to pull out that weapon. 2) If you were in his position, you too would have most likely been shot 3)You are an idiot. Grow up.

    It is tragic this boy is dead and a lot of things could have been done different to prevent his death. But to blame people who dealt with him for 4 or 5 minutes and had a duty of care to the community and were charged with protecting that community from unstable drunk teenagers armed with knives, instead of those who supposedly knew this boy and were his friends and dealt with him for years (if not his whole life) is just stupid. I guess it is a lot easier to blame others than face the reality of your own failings as parents, friends, and relatives that should have been there for Tyler before it got to this.

  34. Hobbit says:

    The fact is that he was armed with a knife in EACH hand and had a death wish. It’s called suicide by cop. To everyone who says the cops should have disarmed him,when did you ever disarm a knife carrying idiot.

  35. inglourious_basterd says:

    One of the best comments I have seen on this was at the end of Cam’s Crikey article.

    Improved police training and responses to such critical incidents means fewer deaths.

    The kid was very troubled, probably mentally ill. You don’t fix mental illness by joining gangs. Associating with a bunch of losers like SCS did nothing for him. They are partly to blame for the tragedy.

  36. Red Pepper says:

    The problem is simple: the cops who confronted Tyler are undertrained and lacked common sense. Vic Police shouldn’t send them to the streets as they don’t know how to deal with threatening situations other than using their tools, all excited to find practice bodies for their government-issued tools. Vic Police should raise its bar as to the intelligence, trainability and capabilities of applicants for the job. In addition, Vic Police should train cops on how to disarm suspects and how to negotiate to save lives including their own.

  37. Greyman says:

    Well Northcote Mum, next time there is a drunk cretin armed and dangerous and threatening to kill people, we shall call you and when he stabs you to death, your family will blame the Police for not shooting him.

  38. joe says:

    I’ve just found out about this story and a lot of good points have been made. However, the fact is that no matter how much you want there to be, there is no decisive answer – the blame cannot be pinned to just one side. I’m a teenager and I can understand that when you grow up, there are a lot of conflicting emotions that aren’t easy to deal with. Tyler was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. To his friends and family, he was a confused boy, unsure of what to believe in. To the police, he was an unstable teenager who posed a threat to the safety of both themselves and the public. What happened was a split-second reaction that comes down to instinct – not rational thought.

    No words will bring Tyler back, and so the most we can do is prevent this awful event from ever happening again. Better training, better equipment and better preparation are needed in the police force, so that if this ever does happen again, then hopefully it can be responded to with non-lethal measures. The only way this is going to happen is through action – not words. NOW is the time for change.

  39. wtf says:

    excuse me,
    ok so, if shooting him in the leg didnt work, how about capsicum spray to the face, not the back of the head, and taser guns? yeh.. why not one of them.
    stop making excuses for the stupid untrained cops that killed that boy..
    and police are supposed to be trained for these situations,
    so dont say that they were trained because theyre not.

  40. xavier says:

    I am absolutely shocked by some of the comments on this. No 15 year old child deserves to be shot. But that’s not why I’m commenting.

    The thing that worries me is what was only touched on briefly in the article: what happened to Tyler between getting off the train and getting to the bus stop? The police have refused to investigate. Anything may have happened to him. His mother (and a bus driver) said he looked dishevelled and obviously distraught. “His shirt was ripped and covered in blood and there were marks on his body.” For a kid who obviously had been through some hard things for a young person to go through and seemingly getting his life together – if something traumatic happened to him it may be enough to send him over the edge. He could have been mugged, raped or brutally attacked. This could be key to discovering what had happened to Tyler that day.

    And any of you defending four supposedly trained police officers killing a 15 year old boy armed with knives who was obviously troubled need to really question your world view and try and gain some perspective and empathy.

  41. @ndy says:

    I’m not shocked. It’s the Internet. Plus, you should read the comments I haven’t published…

    I dunno about the train/bus stop thing. But yeah, maybe.

    Tyler seems happy as he gets on the train with his female friend.

    But by the time he gets to inner-suburban Alphington railway station Tyler’s mood has changed.

    A boy, believed to be Tyler, walks into a milk bar near the station and demands water.

    It takes a bit less than 40 minutes to get from Diamond Creek to Alphington Stations; Tyler’s girlfriend got off a few stops prior. Police reckon they got footage of him reading the paper and there’s no other ref that I can find which suggests something untoward happened on the train.

    I dunno how long it took Tyler to get from Alphington Station to the milk bar, or the milk bar to the bus stop. His mum reckons he came home bloodied and upset; the guy in the milk bar — En Ping (Peter) Chen — testified that Tyler was ‘angry’, but not bloodied. That was sometime between 7 and 8. His mates reckon he left them around 7.

    Another witness, Lydia Firanyi, said that at about 8.45pm she saw a boy answering Tyler’s description swearing and pulling at a wire fence erected at a building site. “He was saying ‘f . . k’ over and over again,” she said.

    It seems possible that something happened between his leaving the train and getting home. On the other hand, others have testified that Tyler was in an odd mood already, and had given away some of his treasured possession to friends, which experts reckon suggests a suicidal disposition. Maybe Tyler was clinically depressed, medicating himself with alcohol, experiencing an especially depressive episode, having ‘suicidal ideation’ (as they say), then got hurt by someone on his way home, and thought he’d had enough.


    Of course, the whole point of the inquest is to try and provide answers to these and other questions so, y’know.

  42. caroline says:

    to all of you who commented on tyler’s family background or “inadequate upbringing” go and get stuffed. sometimes kids go wrong despite all the efforts of their families, friends and social services. i know this from bitter experience. what happened to tyler could easily happen to my boy. i feel for his poor mother. it is also wrong to blanket blame the entire police force.

  43. Robert says:

    While the police have some problems, at the end of the day, would you rather live in a society without police?

    Those societies do exist in the world today. I’ve worked in countries where law and order have broken down to such an extent that there is no functioning police force. Instead, you have private mercenaries, angry mobs and gangsters enforcing the ‘law’.

    Now here’s the problem – when a police force does something wrong, it has to face inquries, work with citizens, and make changes. But when mercenaries, mobs and gangsters make mistakes…well, let’s just say they’ll probably break your legs (or worse) if you even look at them funny. Or maybe burn your house down (with you inside).

    So before you start screaming all cops are pigs and we should get rid of them, take a moment to consider the alternatives. Try living in Somalia for a few days and see what happens when you call the cops a pig. (Hint: They have assault rifles. You don’t.)

  44. reality says:

    Firstly, I am not a police officer and I did not know the people involved. I have 3 children of my own and feel for the mother of Tyler and his family. But facts are facts, the police although not perfect are up against the worst of the worst everyday. They are taught to react to certain situations in certain ways. I do not always applaud their tactics, however, the situation ‘as described’ was a dangerous one. When a person pulls a knife or any other weapon on police officers or anyone else, then said person is in the wrong. The police or anyone else for that matter are now in dark territory and must react fast, often relying on instinct more then anything. A knife wielding madman, irregardless of age is just that…a knife wielding madman.

    I feel more emotion for Tyler and his family, but understand that under these circumstances…I would have done the same as the police. I want to see my children at the end of the day. How many people go home at the end of the day, with a child’s death on their hands? Not an easy job! It’s a tragedy, but Tyler should not have been allowed to leave the house, not always for parents to do though.

    Look at the reality of it, not the emotion! The facts, not how we think it should have turned out.

    Reality is a sad thing sometimes, but it is just that…reality.

    My heart goes to all involved…Tyler’s family and the police involved. Their lives will never be the same again.

  45. aussie says:

    ‘If you see Tyler on your rounds tonight, can you please bring him home safe.’ An hour later, the boy lay dead on a concrete skateboard ramp. Five police bullets had gone clean through him: two in his right leg, one below his right elbow and the fatal shot through his chest which caused his right lung to fill with blood and very soon after, drown him. A sixth bullet grazed his leg.

    nope nothing false here. five bullets gone right through him, 2 + 1 + 1 = 5?

  46. aussie says:

    has any of the peoples whos business this actually is been informed about this? or have you taken it upon yourself andy? im not asking, im asking you to ask yourself.

  47. @ndy says:

    i ask myself why dont i ask aussie to please explain the question because i dont understand it. im asking you to ask yourself to explain to me what you mean.

  48. Dr. Cam says:

    Maybe ask Chris Griffith at The Australian, aussie, you pillock. Mohammed wept.

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