Death of Tyler Cassidy

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Death of Tyler Cassidy
Date 11 December 2008 (2008-12-11)
Location All Nations Park
Northcote, Victoria
, Australia
Type Death by police shooting
Participants Tyler Cassidy
Senior Constable Colin Dods
Senior Constable Richard Blundell
Constable Antonia Ferrante
Constable Nicole De Propertis
Outcome Death
Tyler Cassidy

Tyler Jordan Cassidy was a 15-year-old boy who was killed by Victoria Police officers in Australia. He is believed to have been the youngest person to have been shot dead by police in Australia.[1]


Tyler Jordan Cassidy was shot by police and died on 11 December 2008 at All Nations Park in Northcote, Victoria. 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 Cassidy drop the knives, but he did not. After attempting to subdue Cassidy twice with OC spray,[2] three officers fired ten shots from their Smith & Wesson Model 10 .38 Special revolvers, with five of these striking Cassidy. [3] [4]


The Coroners Court of Victoria found that there was much public commentary of the incident and that the death of "a 15-year-old boy at the hands of the Victoria Police both shocked and bewildered us as a community."[5] 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.[6]

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 Senior Constable Colin 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 Cassidy's family that the officers used disproportionate force worthy of criminal charges, or that Cassidy had been standing still when he was fatally shot.[6]

The incident was blamed on a lack of training and information gathering performed by Victoria Police. Subsequently, all police officers who might come into contact with individuals who appear to be mentally ill in the course of duty are required to undergo a two-day training course twice a year.[7]

Family's Appeal to the UN[edit]

Following the closing of the case by Australian police and determining that the officers acted within the bounds of their duty, Cassidy's mother, Shani Cassidy, appealed to the United Nations for a review of the process by which fatal police shootings are investigated by the Victoria Police Homicide Squad. The author of the UN submission, Anna Brown, expected no additional evidence regarding the investigation to be elicited.[8] Among the complaints were 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.[6] Gunshot residue testing was significantly delayed, possibly leading to inconclusive results. No reconstruction was requested of the officers.[6]

Police integrity[edit]

Shani Cassidy made complaints over the integrity of Victoria Police. She alleged that her son's name was disclosed to the media as well as a "demonising" report of the incident less than three hours of it occurring.[9] Assistant Commissioner Cartwright, then the appointed officer for communicating with the media regarding the event, was accused of disclosing Cassidy's name by the family's counsel, but Victoria Police has strongly denied these accusations.

At one time Shani Cassidy was secretly recorded by homicide detectives during an interview. Her appeal to the UN raised her complaint that following the incident Victoria Police attempted to exculpate themselves.[8]

In June 2015, The Age reported that this Wikipedia page had been edited by Victoria Police at least 17 times to November 2014, apparently to give a more favourable impression of the officers' conduct and the subsequent investigation.[10]

Debate over use of Tasers[edit]

Former chief commissioner of Victoria Police Christine Nixon has suggested that Cassidy's death prompted further community debate about the use of Tasers by Victoria Police.[11] In 2010 Tasers were trialed in Bendigo and Morwell "because of the high use of OC spray, incidents involving people with a mental illness, sieges and instances where offenders have used weapons."[12] In 2016 Tasers were made more widely available to Victoria Police. Deputy Commissioner Wendy Steendam said "What Tasers do for our members is to actually offer them another option in resolutions of incidents where they're having violent confrontations or where people are attempting to self-harm."[13]

Defamation case of 2016[edit]

In May 2016, lawyer Michael McDonald was found to have defamed Sergeant Colin Dods and ordered to pay damages. Justice Kevin Bell described the defamatory comments, made online, as "very grave. The publication caused (Sergeant Dods) to suffer continuing intense distress, humiliation and embarrassment and thereby great harm in his reputation," the judge said.[14]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Rintoul, Stuart (24 November 2011). "Police cleared over shooting of Melbourne teen Tyler Cassidy". The Australian. Retrieved 12 April 2012. 
  2. ^ Farouque, Farah (3 November 2010), "'Just shoot me, I want to die': inquest told of Tyler's final moments", The Age, Melbourne, retrieved 16 December 2013 
  3. ^
  4. ^ "Court reference 5542/08" (PDF). Inquest into the death of Tyler Jordan Cassidy. Coroners Court of Victoria. 23 November 2011. 
  5. ^ Coroner's Report, Redacted Finding into Death with Inquest, Tyler Jordan Cassidy, Summary of Findings. P.10 accessed 9 March 2017
  6. ^ a b c d "Court reference 5542/08". Inquest into the death of Tyler Jordan Cassidy. Coroners Court of Victoria. 23 November 2011. 
  7. ^ Bonighton, Ron (November 2012). Policing people who appear to be mentally ill (PDF) (Report). p. 32. 
  8. ^ a b Cassidy, Shani (2013), Complete statement from Shani Cassidy regarding UN Communication, Human Rights Law Centre, retrieved 16 December 2013 
  9. ^ Davies, Julie-Anne; Rout, Milanda (13 December 2008), "Call for answers after cops kill 15-year-old Tyler Cassidy", The Australian, retrieved 4 December 2013 
  10. ^ Liam Mannix, "Victoria Police edits Wikipedia page of police shooting victim Tyler Cassidy," The Age, 1 June 2015 Accessed 27 March 2017
  11. ^ Christine Nixon (2011) Fair Cop p.258, Victory Books, ISBN 9780522862058
  12. ^ Wes Hosking, Herald Sun, June 30, 2010, "Country police equipped with Tasers from Sunday in trial run" Accessed 27 March 2017
  13. ^ ABC News "Regional Victorian police to get Tasers to stop violent offenders" Accessed 27 March 2017
  14. ^ Mark Russell and Adam Cooper "Lawyer must pay police officer $150,000 over claim teenager Tyler Cassidy was 'executed" The Age, May 6, 2016 Accessed 9 March 2017