Media Statement: Police Shooting of Alexander Stuart Pinnock

The NSW Council for Civil Liberties (NSWCCL) expresses our deep concern over the recent police shooting of 34-year-old Alexander Stuart Pinnock in Nowra.

Comments from NSWCCL President, Lydia Shelly.

"We are deeply saddened by the tragic incident that occurred on Wednesday afternoon, resulting in the death of Mr. Alexander Stuart Pinnock. Our thoughts and heartfelt condolences go out to his family and friends during this difficult time."

"A critical incident investigation is currently underway into the circumstances surrounding Mr. Pinnock's shooting. It has been reported that he emerged from a Nowra medical practice armed with what appeared to be a firearm. We understand that the police were aware of Mr. Pinnock's mental health history and that he had only a very minor criminal record for non-violent offences."

"Mr. Pinnock was known to the police primarily in the context of mental health interventions. Recent interactions between Mr. Pinnock and law enforcement were in the context of mental health episodes. This raises serious questions about the appropriateness of the response that led to his death. Considering his known history, we must ask how an individual, known to be struggling with mental health issues, can end up being shot to death by police."

"We understand that due to the quick response of the medical practice staff, who managed to escape and raise the alarm, Mr Pinnock had been left alone in the building. Whilst we are sympathetic to individual officers who attend these incidents, 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."

"The Law Enforcement Conduct Commission (LECC) has limited access and powers when playing an oversight role in internal police investigations. We assert that a broader, independent inquiry conducted by the LECC is essential, specifically focusing on systemic issues related to policing in healthcare settings, particularly those involving mental health considerations. These critical questions should be addressed through a Coronial Inquest."

"While we recognize the calls for increased funding and training for police dealing with individuals facing mental health challenges, we emphasize that all efforts should be made to resolve situations without police involvement. However, if police intervention becomes necessary, the use of lethal force should be an absolute last resort. 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."

“The NSWCCL urges a thorough and transparent investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of Alexander Stuart Pinnock and calls for systemic changes to prevent similar incidents in the future.”