Saturday, October 8, 2011

Investigation of NSW police killing a 'disgraceful whitewash'

Another dickless Tracy panics and somebody is needlessly shot -- so a big coverup ensues. A previous dickless Tracy was responsible for This. Female police are too nervous to be entrusted with firearms

An internal police investigation into the death of a mentally ill man who was shot at close range by an experienced sergeant has been branded a "disgraceful whitewash" by lawyers for the victim's family.

Adam Salter, 36, was shot dead by police as he stabbed himself with a knife at his father's Lakemba home on November 18, 2009.

A critical incident investigation into the shooting, carried out by homicide officer Detective Inspector Russell Oxford, absolved of blame the officer who pulled the trigger, Sergeant Sheree Bissett.

But lawyers for the Salter family have told an inquest into the death that the investigation was biased and should be reviewed by the Police Integrity Commission (PIC).

"The critical incident investigation started as a disgraceful whitewash ... and ended in the same way," Stephen Rushton, SC, told the inquest on Friday. He said Detective Inspector Oxford's report into the death was "unbalanced, partial and ... false and misleading".

Detective Inspector Oxford was also accused of asking leading questions of Sergeant Bissett, an officer of 22 years' experience, during a walk-through reconstruction of the shooting. Mr Rushton added: "It highlights, in my respectful submission, the problems where police investigate police."

Counsel assisting the coroner Chris Lonergan told the inquest he did not believe that Mr Salter, who had a history of depression, psychosis and schizophrenia, should have been shot.

The inquest has previously heard that Mr Salter was on the floor of his father's kitchen when he suddenly got to his feet, grabbed a knife from a sink and began stabbing himself in the throat.

Sergeant Bissett shouted a warning that she was discharging her Taser stun gun, but instead fired her pistol.

Detective Inspector Oxford's report into the incident said Sergeant Bissett's use of her gun was justified, the inquest heard.

"Was the discharge of the police pistol appropriate?" Mr Lonergan asked." "The answer is, in short, no, it was not appropriate."

"In those circumstances it is, to say the least, unfortunate and regrettable that the situation that presented itself to Sergeant Bissett did not call for her to consider other alternatives such as capsicum spray or another method."

Mr Lonergan said firing the gun in those circumstances was not in line with police protocols.

Mr Rushton asked Deputy Coroner Scott Mitchell to refer the investigation into Mr Salter's death to the PIC. The Salter family was also seeking an apology from the police, he added. But it is not seeking a referral of the case to the Department of Public Prosecutions.

The death of Mr Salter was a "tragic and wholly unnecessary loss", Mr Rushton added.

Sergeant Bissett believed there was an "immediate, dire risk" to those present in the kitchen when she shot Adam Salter, her lawyer Les Nicholls told the inquest. The law provided for Sergeant Bissett to fire her gun if she was concerned about the safety of herself or others - even if in hindsight that proved not to be the case, Mr Nicholls said.

"There was a very limited period of time that existed between Adam Salter getting up off the floor and the discharge of the firearm," he said. "This was a very unexpected event, described quite rightly as chaotic."

Mr Salter grabbing the knife amounted to a violent act in a confined space, Mr Nicholls said. "There was an imminent and dire risk to those present."

Deputy State Coroner Scott Mitchell adjourned the inquest until next Friday, when he will deliver his findings.


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