Posted by: Chris Cole | December 12, 2008

Police shoot & kill a 15 year old in Victoria…

Just briefly surfing the news and came across a few articles regarding the fatal shooting of a 15 year old boy in Melbourne last night.

The boy had tried to carry kitchen knives from his house, but his family took them away from him, so he walked into a local K-Mart and stole some large knives / meat cleavers by way of threatening the staff with them.

He was wandering about yelling and brandishing the knives in a park when police became involved. Apparently 4 police officers spent some time talking to him, trying to calm him down. When that failed and he was increasingly aggressive they sprayed him with capsaicin foam. The boy then advanced on one police officer, yelling that he was going to kill them. The threatened officer backed away, however the boy kept advancing. The threatened officer and two other officers drew their firearms. One warning shot was fired into the ground. The boy still kept coming. The threatened officer and two other officers then fired on the boy, killing him.

Several commentators have noted that this is all a terrible tragedy, and indeed, it is, especially for the boy’s family and the police members involved. A lot of people are also bitching, however, about how the police could have avoided the use of deadly force, that it was “obviously” unnecessary in this case, and so on.

Seriously, people. The police carry firearms for a reason. That reason is so that they can either dissuade a person from harming others, or rapidly incapacitate them to prevent such harm if the person does act harmfully or shows continued intent to do so. That such rapid incapacitation involves a very high risk of serious injury or death to the perpetrator is unfortunate, but largely irrelevant. Yes, tasers might be a great idea, but the police involved did not have them. Sadly they also lacked magic wands and the “petrificus totalis” spell of Potter fame.

This teenager was acting aggressively, armed with deadly weapons, failing to respond to discussion, demonstration of superior force (that is, firearms), warning shots and assault with capsaicin foam. Further more, he was voicing intent to attack and try to kill a police officer.

What the hell else should the police have done? Opening fire on the boy was a reasonable response in the face of the above circumstances when all other avenues of action had been effectively exhausted.

And contrary to popular belief, shooting to wound is not an option. Incidentally neither is shooting to kill. Police are trained to shoot to STOP, as are all non-specialist military personnel. This means aiming at the centre of the largest area of target facing you. This, for better or worse, happens to be the mid to lower chest. Handguns are not very accurate weapons over any significant distance, and if you are to the point of having to unholster and action your weapon one presumes time is probably rather critical, and the risk of missing your target is less acceptable than causing more harm than is strictly necessary (e.g. killing them). Shooting people in the hand or leg looks great in the movies. It is not a sensible approach in the real world.



  1. I agree with your comments, no matter who your are, what age you are or what gender someone is, if you show intent to kill with a dadly weapon then you should expect nothing else than to be stopped with a deadly weaopn.

    On the other hand……. or maybe not even on the other hand, just another method the police force are trying to get approved for officers to use in a situation like this are Tazers. So far no luck, but a great ideo none the less. But then again, does society really need more fuckwits like this running around with knives and showing no respect or regard for the human race. This however opens another can of worms, but still a good idea for the Tazer in my opinion. Everyone deserves one or 2 chances in a lifetime.

  2. I agree. Tasers / non-lethal-but-disabling weapons are certainly a useful addition to the law enforcement toolkit. No-one wants to shoot someone else, especially not some 15 year old kid. Given the option, I’m sure taser-ing him would have been the preferred course of action.

    On your second point… yeah, it’s politically correct to avoid being too judgemental, etc. etc., but being brutally honest… on the balance of probabilities one has to think that the gene pool and society at large are perhaps likely to better off rather than worse because of his death.

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