12 Dec 2008

Officers defended after boy shot dead

2:44 pm on 12 December 2008

[n] Victorian police are defending the actions of officers who shot dead a boy, aged 15, in Melbourne on Thursday night.

Police used capsicum spray unsuccessfully and fired a warning shot into the ground before three officers shot the boy in the chest in the suburb of Northcote.

The ABC reports he was armed with knives believed to have been stolen from a local shop. Police say his family earlier stopped him from taking knives from the family home.

Assistant Commissioner Tim Cartwright says officers acted correctly and rejected claims that they were trigger happy. It is not known how many shots hit the boy.

Liberty Victoria immediate past president Julian Burnside, QC, says the incident is a sad reminder of the old days of Victoria Police being too heavy-handed with guns.

The Police Association says the officers acted appropriately, but the shooting shows that police need more options when confronted with violence.

Witness Hariet Stewart says she was in the car park and saw the boy before he was shot. She says she thought the teenager may have been on drugs.

Homicide detectives and Ethical Standards police are investigating the shooting.