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Vic: Police, youth relations at worrying low after teen's death

By Greg Roberts
17 Dec 2008 7:46 PM
EDS: Note language in 9th par

MELBOURNE, Dec 17 AAP - Relations between Victoria Police and the community are at a dangerous low after the shooting of teenager Tyler Cassidy, a crime expert has warned.

Dr Julian Bondy, a criminal justice associate professor at Melbourne's RMIT University, said police faced a long summer dealing with hostile young people angry over the death of the 15-year-old.

Tyler was shot and killed by three of four officers he confronted in a skate park in the Melbourne suburb of Northcote last week. He had allegedly threatened to kill the officers with knives.

Dr Bondy said the community was also disillusioned with police over another fatal Melbourne shooting that killed a young man in May, and with corruption charges against senior figures Noel Ashby and Paul Mullett.

"This boy (Tyler) had a demonstrable capacity for violence, he was out of control and volatile but police deal with that all the time," Dr Bondy said.

"Four police officers found him so confronting they had no option but to shoot and it is very unfortunate timing with the busy season and this will make their job harder.

"There is a bad vibe in the community, a change taking place with younger people, partly through their attitude to each other but this will make them more confrontational."

The Northcote skate park has become a shrine to Tyler, whose funeral will be held on Thursday. Mourners have left flowers, tributes and messages vowing revenge against police or "pigs".

And the message: "We will get them f...ers back, mamba revenge is sweet" was among many postings on Tyler's Mesopause website.

"Tyler RIP" graffiti has been spotted several kilometres away from the skate park, in neighbouring suburbs.

Local parents are also angry about the actions of police.

"I spent 10 years in the army and the lack of police skills is upsetting. I find it unbelievable they needed to keep shooting," said Northcote resident Warren Figure, who has a teenage son.

Dr Bondy said the training Victoria Police received was better than what their NSW counterparts got.

He said he doubted a coronial inquiry would uncover any wrongdoing by the officers involved, nor point to poor training.

"I don't think we'll ever know if they had any options (other than shooting). But it is premature to prejudge the formal inquiry," he said.

Tyler's funeral will be held at St John the Baptist Catholic Church in Clifton Hill on Thursday.