Police fire at teen
Shooting defended as union calls for action on evaders
THE state’s police union is reeling after a constable was forced to fire on a teenager who allegedly ran him down in a stolen car.
Police were responding to a car driving erratically about 1am yesterday when they traced it to a dead-end road in Blackmans Bay.
The 17-year-old driver allegedly turned the Ford Festiva around on Crystal Downs Drive and aimed at the officer, who was out of his car.
“As the vehicle was driving directly at the police officer (he) believed he was under direct threat and discharged his firearm,” Commander Tony Cerritelli said.
“It is probably the most extreme level of activity that a police officer can take.”
It is yet to be revealed how many shots were fired but the car did not stop, hitting the officer and his vehicle. The youth allegedly fled and abandoned the car in Wattle Avenue, Kingston, where he was found nearby.
The constable was taken to Calvary Hospital with minor leg injuries and was discharged yesterday.
The youth, who was driving alone, is under guard in the Royal Hobart Hospital being treated for a head injury. He had not been charged last night. It is not clear whether his injury was caused by shrapnel from the shooting or in the collision with police.
Mr Cerritelli backed the officer’s actions.
“Obviously there was a significant concern from the police and that’s why the action was taken which, based on the evidence that I have and the facts that I have, I fully support,” he said.
“This is a traumatic event for everyone involved. Whether it’s the offender or the police officers it’s not a good thing to happen.”
The incident comes after repeated police union warnings over police evasion incidents, often by young repeat offenders, which the State Government has labelled an “epidemic”.
Police Association of Tasmania president Pat Allen said it was a grave incident which could have ended much worse.
“Motor vehicles are probably the most lethal weapon in the hands of the wrong person,” he said.
“I’ve just had enough of it, it’s happening everywhere all over the world now.
“I want to see the law come down hard in relation to it … there’s good penalties available. Start using the penalties that are there and we’ll stop yelling for mandatory sentencing.”
He said the constable was a “very competent officer” who was sore and upset but was doing well.
“He was put in a position where he had to do something police don’t like doing and that’s firing shots,” Mr Allen said.
“It’s a bad situation but the offi- cer handled himself well and did a damn fine job.”
The incident will be investigated internally because a shot was fired, while officers involved are receiving assistance. Mr Cerritelli said the shot or shots were fired at the driver’s side windshield and road spikes had been authorised but not used. The youth was known to police.
A resident on Crystal Downs Drive said it was concerning a firearm had to be used but police “must have felt threatened”.
“It was scary in such a built-up area but they must have known what they were doing,” he said.
INVESTIGATION: A police car in Crystal Downs Drive, Blackmans Bay, yesterday where the shooting incident happened and police commander Tony Cerritelli.