The Independent Police Conduct Authority has found an officer was justified in shooting at and wounding a man who presented an air pistol at Flaxmere Primary School on 17 December 2019.
The incident took place on the afternoon of 17 December 2019 when Police went to the Flaxmere Primary School in response to a report of a man behaving in a threatening manner. The school had been put in lockdown.
When the officers approached the man, he presented an air pistol from the front of his shorts and ran out of the school grounds, chased by three officers. The man ran through a residential property and back into the school grounds onto the school netball court where the officers challenged him to drop his weapon.
When a Police dog was released to apprehend the man, he again pulled the air pistol from the front of his shorts and appeared to chamber a round as two officers moved towards him. A third officer then fired one shot from his Bushmaster rifle at the man, wounding his arm and abdomen. He later required surgery.
Authority Chair, Judge Colin Doherty said he accepted the officer genuinely believed the man could seriously hurt or kill his colleagues who were exposed from cover, and he fired the shot to defend them. "The Authority also accepts the only other tactical option available to the officer in the circumstances was to either do nothing or continue to shout at the man to drop the weapon. Faced with what the officer perceived as the real and imminent threat of severe injury or death to his colleagues, his actions in using the rifle were justified and reasonable".
The Authority also found that the officers complied with policy when arming themselves, and that Police managed the incident appropriately to ensure their response was coordinated and properly resourced.