Death of Tyler Cassidy

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Tyler Cassidy was a 15 year old boy who was shot and killed by Victoria Police.==Shooting==

Tyler Jordan Cassidy was shot by police and died on 11 December 2008 at All Nations Park in Northcote, Victoria. He was just over 15 years old. Before the shooting Cassidy had armed himself with two large knives which he had stolen from a nearby shopping centre and threatened members of the public, insisting that they call the police. In the park, police demanded that Tyler drop the knives, but he did not. After attempting to subdue Cassidy twice with OC spray,[1] Officer Dods fired a warning shot in the ground then two shots at Cassidy's legs. As Cassidy continued to advance whilst ignoring directions to discard his weapons, three police officers fired a further 7 shots, five of which struck Cassidy when less than four metres' distance to Officer Dods. A fourth officer did not fire. Cassidy died at the scene within minutes.[2]

Investigations[edit]

The Coroners Court of Victoria reported that there was much media coverage of the incident, and that the death of a 15 year old boy "at the hands of the Victorian Police both shocked and bewildered the community". The competence and impartiality of the internal police investigation was questioned. The Coroner’s Inquest heard 34 days of evidence from 63 witnesses and the Brief of evidence was 3,710 pages long.[3]

From the Inquest: "He [Cassidy] had been capsicum-sprayed twice without effect and advanced on an officer who became trapped at the top of a skate park bowl, the coroner found. Three of the police fired at him after a warning shot and several shots at his legs failed to stop Tyler moving forward with the knives towards Leading Sen-Constable Dods. Tyler had been drinking excessively during the night and was found to have a post mortem blood alcohol level of between 0.09g/100ml and 0.11g/100ml."

State Coroner Jennifer Coate rejected a submission from Tyler's family that the officers used disproportionate force worthy of criminal charges, or that Tyler had been standing still when he was fatally shot. These submissions were dismissed by the Coroner in her findings.[3]

UN appeal[edit]

Following the closing of the case by Australian police and determining that the officers acted within the bounds of their duty, Tyler's mother, Shani Cassidy appealed to the United Nations for a review of the process where fatal police shootings are investigated by the Victoria Police Homicide Squad with oversight by the Coroner who acts as the superior oversight body. Of note, it was conceded by the author of the UN submission, Anna Brown that no additional evidence regarding the investigation was likely to be elicited.[4] Among the complaints are allegations of poor investigative police work. Three of the four police officers involved attended a police function where alcohol was served the night before the fatal shooting occurred but no alcohol or drug testing was administered at the time of the incident. Ten shots were fired but no bullets were recovered from the crime scene. Dods received a private phone call from his commanding officer immediately after the event; an issue Dods himself was highly critical about when cross examined.[5] Gunshot residue testing was significantly delayed, possibly leading to inconclusive results although the officers voluntarily gave evidence as to who had discharged their firearms; quickly confirmed by ballistics analysis of their individual weapons. No reconstruction was requested of the officers.[3]

Shani Cassidy has also raised concerns over the integrity of Victoria police. She alleges that Tyler Cassidy's name was disclosed to the media as well as a "demonizing" report of the incident within less than three hours of it occurring.[6] Assistant Commissioner Cartwright, then the appointed officer for communicating with the media regarding the event, has been accused of disclosing Tyler's name by the families counsel but Victoria Police has strongly denied these accusations. At one time Shani Cassidy was secretly recorded by homicide detectives during an interview. Her request to the U.N. raises her concern that following the incident Victoria police attempted to exculpate themselves.[7]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Farouque, Farah; Age, The (2010), 'Just shoot me, I want to die': inquest told of Tyler's final moments, The Age (Melbourne), retrieved 2013-12-16 
  2. ^ Coroner’s Court of Victoria (23 November 2011). "Inquest into the death of Tyler Jordan Cassidy". Court reference 5542/08. 
  3. ^ a b c Coroner’s Court of Victoria (23 November 2011). "Inquest into the death of Tyler Jordan Cassidy". Court reference 5542/08. 
  4. ^ Brown, Anna; Cassidy, Shani (2013), Individual communication to the United Nations Human Rights Committee, retrieved 2013-12-04 
  5. ^ Coroner’s Court of Victoria (23 November 2011). "Inquest into the death of Tyler Jordan Cassidy". Court reference 5542/08. 
  6. ^ Davies, Julie-Anne; Rout, Milanda; Australian, T.H.E. (2008), Call for answers after cops kill 15-year-old Tyler Cassidy, The Australian, retrieved 2013-12-04 
  7. ^ Cassidy, Shani (2013), They didn’t even ask him his name: Complete statement from Shani Cassidy regarding UN Communication, retrieved 2013-12-16