By Sahar Adatia and Jimmy Singh.
In the early hours of 20 April 2020, the Sydney southern suburb of Rockdale became the scene of a fatal shooting as police blasted down a man, known to them for mental health reasons, in a tense confrontation who was armed with knives, a meat tenderiser and a hammer.
The state of affairs began when officers from St George Police Area Command were summoned to Bay Street in Rockdale at around 9pm the night before following a call from a person who was known to the man.
The caller expressed concern for the man’s welfare, informing he had been acting erratically and had left a premise at Brighton Le Sands.
Officers rushed to the area and upon arrival, carried out a search of nearby bushland, assisted by PolAir and the Dog Unit.
However, it wasn’t until 12:40am the following morning that the man, aged 51, made himself visible.
Armed with knives, a meat tenderiser and a hammer, he began to threaten officers.
Officers tried to speak with the man, however he simply ran at police and as a result attempted to taser him.
They then fired at him and in a single shot struck him down.
The man was treated by NSW Ambulance paramedics but died at the scene.
Officer Brought into Questioning Around Fatal Shooting
Addressing the incident, NSW Police Assistant Commissioner Mick Willing said the scene presenting challenging circumstances for officers.
“I’ve had a look at the body-worn video and it happened in split seconds. It’s one of those confronting circumstances for officers that have to attend,” Assistant Commissioner Willing said.
“But saying that our thoughts are obviously with those who know this man and his relatives.”
He added that at least 10 officers were on hand as the fatal shooting took place.
That officer has since been brought into questioning.
Assistant Commissioner Willing said the man was familiar to police for mental health reasons.
Opinions Divided on Social Media as Assistant Commissioner Willing Updates on Rockdale Shooting
Meanwhile, as Assistant Commissioner Willing gave his update on the fatal incident, opinions on social media were divided on the man’s shooting.
“It must be terrifying for officers and the victim, but I do wonder why he had to be killed. Why not shoot in the leg for instance and disable him, he didn’t have a gun,” a Top Fan commented.
“Attempted to taser??? Gun happy cop obviously,” wrote one person, while another advocated, “Get people who can handle people with knives. Proper training in self-defence”.
One online user had a stern message for the Assistant Commissioner, saying, “Matthew you obviously don’t know a loved one that struggles with mental health. Our mental health system does not keep them in hospitals long enough, furthermore I they are still not well they let them out to the community”.
On the other side of the debate, another Top Fan quickly took to the defence of police.
“Until you have been personally threatened by a mentally unwell person with weapons then it’s really hard to comment. I seriously doubt the officer that pulled the trigger is giving himself a high five! People who have no idea are so quick to judge!! It sickens me,” she wrote.
Another online user said she thought “police do a great job” that it seems unfair that “they get the third degree” after such an event.
One member simply expressed, “Poor police, they do an amazing job”.
Critical Incident Investigation Now Underway into Fatal Shooting
According to a statement from NSW Police, a critical incident investigation has now been launched into the fatal shooting in Rockdale, carried out by the critical incident team from the Homicide Squad.
The investigation will be subject to an independent review to determine the man’s cause of death.
All information will be provided to the Coroner, who will determine the cause of death and make any findings associated with the events leading to the man’s death.
With no further details currently available around the case, police are now appealing for witnesses to come forward with any information they may have.
In NSW, it is an offence to be in custody of a knife in a public place or a school.
The offence carries serious penalties, including a criminal conviction if dealt with in Court. Click here for a full outline on the charges, law and defences of having custody of a knife in public.
Normally, the offence attract an on-the-spot fine of $550. Paying the fine puts an end to the case without a criminal conviction. However, the person who receives the fine can also elect to take it to court where he/she may defend it or plead guilty to it.
If it ends up being heard in court, the Judge or Magistrate can impose a penalty of up to 2-years jail or $2,200 fine, or both under section 11C Summary Offences Act 1988 (NSW).
Questions? Speak to a Sydney criminal lawyer today.