Media Release | Police shoot mentally distressed man

A 24-year-old man is currently recovering in hospital after police officers shot him down as he allegedly rushed at them holding a knife in a suburban shopping centre car park.

Police said two officers fired shots at the man after he refused to drop his weapon outside the shopping centre in Lilydale. After multiple reassurances that the officers would not shoot or kill him, he is now recovering in hospital after surgery.

The man was clearly mentally and emotionally distressed, supposedly shouting for the ‘police to kill him’. A witness stated the man was calm despite being distressed and that “tasers or spray would have been a good solution for the 15-minute window they had him stuck there.”

This is yet another incident, and the second within three days of police have using excessive force and violence to apprehend someone who is clearly mentally and emotionally distressed. This is another example of police being both mentally and physically unprepared to deal with mental and emotional distress, raising the questions as to whether police should be first responders to these particular incidents.

If police continue in their role as initial responders, it is imperative to the lives of people in the community that they be adequately trained, similar to their approach to family violence.

From research we have recently completed around COVID-19 and its impact on mental health in Victoria, 75% of respondents stated their mental health was worse during the second wave of the pandemic; half contemplated or attempted suicide, and 37% are currently in isolation on their own. Understanding this, it is even more crucial for police to protect people in our society, especially to those who are most vulnerable.

VMIAC demands the Victoria Police train their officers to deal with incidents such as this with compassion and professionalism, rather than simply resorting to violence. Action must be taken at a government level to impede this unnecessary use of violence being used against those who live with mental and emotional distress.

If you are distressed by this incident, please do not hesitate to get in touch on 03 9380 3900, or to call our CHECK-IN service on 1800 845 009.

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