MELBOURNE, Australia – Police in the southern Australian city of Melbourne fatally shot a 15-year-old boy in a skate park after officers said he threatened them with knives.
Police said the teen, Tyler Cassidy of Melbourne, continued to approach them Thursday night even after they fired warning shots and twice hit him with pepper spray. Several officers fired at him, hitting him in the chest. He died at the scene.
The shooting comes less than a week after police in Athens, Greece, fatally shot a 15-year-old boy, sparking massive riots. Cassidy's death did not immediately prompt similar outrage among Australians, although the boy's family condemned the shooting and the Victoria state police union renewed its calls to arm officers with Taser stun guns.
"The entire family and friends of Tyler Cassidy are appalled at the actions by Victoria Police last night," the boy's family said in a statement. "Their heavy-handedness and lack of negotiating skills at the scene of the shooting contributed to the untimely death of our beautiful 15-year-old."
Police in Melbourne were called to the park after several people reported seeing a young man behaving erratically, Victoria state police Assistant Commissioner Tim Cartwright said.
Cassidy had stolen knives from a nearby department store earlier in the day, Cartwright said.
"He was irrational. He was yelling and screaming and, as far as we can tell, armed with two knives at that stage," Cartwright told reporters.
The situation was a tragedy, but police acted appropriately, Cartwright said.
Homicide detectives will investigate the shooting on behalf of the state coroner, under the supervision of the police's ethical standards unit, Cartwright said.
Although the full circumstances of the shooting were not immediately clear, a Taser may have helped prevent the boy's death, Police Association secretary Senior Sgt. Greg Davies said.
"Using a Taser would have meant he wouldn't have had to have been shot," Davies said. "He would have been temporarily disabled and handcuffed."