The recent fatal shooting of a 34-year-old man, identified as Alexander Stuart Pinnock, outside a medical centre in Nowra, has sparked calls for improved training in mental health interventions for police officers.
Pinnock reportedly threatened medical staff with a semi-automatic pistol, and after emerging from the clinic after a two-hour standoff, was shot at by multiple police officers. He was treated by paramedics but died at the scene.
Pinnock, had a history of mental health interventions and a minor non-violent criminal record, previously pleading guilty to impersonation of a lawyer. He has featured previously on a news program explaining his schizophrenia was responsible for his impersonation.
This incident has raised questions surrounding the police's handling of individuals with mental health challenges.
In a statement, the Pinnock family said “What happened yesterday demonstrates a failure within the various systems in our community designed to help and support those who struggle with mental illness, This does not excuse his actions and it does not lessen the impact felt by those close to the incident.".
President of the New South Wales Council for Civil Liberties (NSWCCL) Lydia Shelly said, “We cannot continue to have people experiencing mental health episodes die as a result of police intervention – there must be more effective ways to handle noncompliant individuals in mental health crises without resorting to lethal force.”
She emphasised that all efforts should be made to resolve the situation without police intervention but that, “if police intervention becomes necessary, the use of lethal force should be an absolute last resort.”
Ms Shelly said, “Enhanced training, coupled with proper limits and accountability measures on the use of force (including the use of tasers and firearms), can contribute to a more compassionate and effective approach in handling such situations.”
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