Po­lice fire at teen

Shoot­ing de­fended as union calls for ac­tion on evaders

Sunday Tasmanian - - News - PATRICK BILLINGS Po­lice Re­porter

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.

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