Sunday, October 16, 2011

Senior Australian cop who led the coverup of an unwarranted police killing should be fired

Detective Inspector Russell Oxford is a crook and a liar

THE NSW Police Force is under mounting pressure to take disciplinary action against one of its most senior homicide detectives, and to reassess how officers are trained to deal with mentally disturbed people, after the coroner slammed the police response to the shooting death of Adam Salter.

Nearly two years after police claimed Mr Salter, 36, was shot in the kitchen of his Lakemba home because he was threatening police with a knife, a Deputy Coroner, Scott Mitchell, set the official record straight yesterday, finding that it was likely that he posed a threat only to himself.

Mr Mitchell described the entire police response as an "utter failure" and said that there was "real doubt" that the shooting was justified.
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He said it was likely that Sergeant Sheree Bissett, who called "Taser, Taser, Taser" before shooting Mr Salter in the back, had intended to use her Taser but mistakenly chose her Glock pistol instead.

Sergeant Bissett's explanation that these were "the words that just came out of my mouth" was "no explanation at all".

"There is very strong evidence that her description of the risk posed by Adam Salter is exaggerated, real doubt as to whether she gave any consideration to an appropriate means of dealing with Adam Salter, real doubt as to whether shooting him was justified and whether a less drastic means of appropriately dealing with him was not available," Mr Mitchell said.

Sergeant Bissett's apparent mistake was the last in a string of serious errors in the immediate police response, including failing to remove the knife Adam Salter had used to harm himself and the decision to leave him "in the care of a young and inexperienced and … unresponsive officer" - probationary constable Aaron Abela.

Mr Mitchell slammed the police's critical incident investigation, led by Detective Inspector Russell Oxford from the homicide squad, describing it as "seriously flawed".

He said the recorded walk-through interview Detective Inspector Oxford conducted with Sergeant Bissett was a "failure and a disgrace" and that the high profile officer "gravely misrepresented the truth" in claiming that the evidence of the ambulance officers involved was consistent with that of police.

"As an exercise in the type of scrupulous impartiality, rigour and balance advocated in the critical incident guidelines, it fell far below an acceptable standard, " he said.

Although Mr Mitchell elected not to recommend Detective Inspector Oxford and the others involved in misrepresenting the shooting to the Police Integrity Commission, Mr Salter's father, Adrian, said yesterday it was likely the family would refer the matter themselves.

They are also considering a range of other options including civil action. "I do believe that the people involved should be held to account for it - for the misrepresentations that were made," Mr Salter said.

When asked whether action would be taken against any of the officers involved or new training introduced, a spokesman said: "The NSW Police Force notes the findings of the NSW Coroner's Court … NSWPF will review the judgment before making any further comment."

Original report here. (Via Australian police news)

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