Police shootings probe leads to changes

Police at the scene of the shooting at Outlook Drive Tewantin.
Police at the scene of the shooting at Outlook Drive Tewantin. Nicola Brander

TWO FATAL Sunshine Coast police shootings were among the five incidents that sparked a widespread review of police conduct in violent confrontations which has led to a number of operational changes.

After five fatal police shootings in Queensland in 2013/14, including the shooting deaths of Anthony Young in Coolum in August 2013 and Edward Logan in Tewantin in November, 2014, the Queensland Police Service announced it would hold its Violent Confrontations Review.


Police at the scene of the shooting at Outlook Drive Tewantin.
Police at the scene of the shooting at Outlook Drive Tewantin. Nicola Brander

A number of measures were implemented in response to the shootings while the Review's findings, publicly released about a fortnight ago, handed down 31 recommendations.

Among those already actioned, investigating how better to share information in real-time between the QPS and Queensland Health to try and improve response and intervention from police and health workers with people reaching "crisis point".


INQUEST: Edward Logan's brother accepts officers had to shoot

INQUEST: Officer recounts shooting of Anthony Young

Reviews of police operating procedure and traffic manuals have also been ordered to provide greater clarity around when an officer would "be justified in shooting at a moving vehicle" and ensuring officers were aware of their duty of care in relation to any loss of control of vehicles after being shot at.

The Tewantin and Coolum shootings were not directly referenced in the Review as those shootings remain involved in a broader, joint inquest, but the report identified a number of flaws in current training which subsequent recommendations will look to improve.

Coroner Terry Ryan, at last year's inquest into Edward Logan's death, found the officers involved had acted in the course of their duties and- although one officer had not been carrying a Taser citing a lack of available Tasers- the Coroner found as did the Ethical Standards Command that a Taser "was not an appropriate option".

Logan's brother accepted the officer's actions were reasonable after hearing evidence at last year's inquest.

Mr Ryan also found officers had acted accordingly in the shooting death of Anthony Young.

Young's family were reported at the time as not having understood the depths of his mental health issues prior to his shooting death.

Young had killed his brother, David and his partner Louise Dekens when officers attended the scene on Yandina-Coolum Rd on August 21, 2013.

Coroner Ryan's findings were aligned with those of the Ethical Standards Command. Despite the officer not having access to a Taser, the Coroner found he had acted accordingly in shooting Young, who was swinging a machete less than two metres from the officer when the shots were fired.

He died during surgery after the incident.

The police report also found the underpinning QPS philosophy of "minimum amount of force necessary to resolve an incident" was not prominent enough within police operational procedure manuals.

Despite the findings and recommendations only recently being released to the public, there have been several measures taken since November 2014 by police to improve their responses to violent confrontations.

Among those, a senior mental health clinician has been located within the police communications centre to advise responding officers responding to cases deemed high-risk, mental health related incidents.

Extra Tasers, 318 in total, have been made available to operational staff in a bid to further de-escalate situations and in Brisbane, a trial is also underway involving deployment of smaller teams to potentially violent situations equipped with "extra, less lethal options" including pepper balls.

The review also reiterated the need to reinforce that once a situation had escalated to the point of engagement, if there was a threat to the life of police officers or the public, the motivation of the offender then became irrelevant.

"Safety is the overriding concern at that stage," the report read.

To read the full review click here.

Topics:  fatal shooting queensland police service review scott sawyer sunshine coast

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