The mother of Melbourne teenager, Tyler Cassidy, who was shot dead by police in 2008, has filed a communication with the United Nation’s Human Rights Committee to highlight Australia’s failure to ensure police-related deaths are properly investigated by an independent body.
Shani Cassidy said she was seeking a ruling from the highest authority on human rights law because she didn’t want any other mother to have to go through what she has.
“The investigation was conducted by Victoria Police because, in Victoria, there is no independent body able to investigate deaths like my son's. Until such a body exists there can be no justice here,” Ms Cassidy said.
Speaking from the UN in Geneva, the Human Right Law Centre’s director of Strategic Litigation, Anna Brown, said Australia had a legal obligation to improve the current practice of allowing police to investigate themselves.
“Not only is it commonsense to ensure investigations into police violence are independent, but it is also in keeping with international human rights law and in Victoria it would be in keeping with Victoria’s Charter of Human Rights,” Ms Brown said.
Only 73 seconds elapsed between the police first approaching Tyler and him being shot dead, during which time he was sprayed with capsicum foam twice and answered a phone call. Ten shots were fired, five of which hit Tyler.
Ms Cassidy is angered that the police officers who killed her son were not treated as suspects. Contrary to usual practices of dealing with people involved in homicides, the interviews of the police officers who shot Tyler were not audio or video recorded – only written statements were provided. By contrast, Ms Cassidy said investigating officers treated her and her family like criminals and even secretly recorded conversations and meetings with police.
The communication prepared for Ms Cassidy by the Human Rights Law Centre with the generous pro bono assistance of leading law firm Allens, outlines the case for the Committee to find that Australia is in breach of its obligation to uphold the right to life by failing to introduce independent investigations into deaths resulting from the use of force by police.“Tyler has gone, and nothing will bring him back. However, ensuring a better, independent investigation process will help other families to avoid the kind of suffering we are going through,” Ms Cassidy said.
The HRLC and Ms Cassidy hope a ruling from the UN Human Rights Committee will spur both the Federal and State governments in Australia into establishing independent models for investigating police related deaths.
“It’s important that families of victims and the general public have confidence in the impartially and credibility of investigations into police related deaths and violence. The good news is, there are practical steps governments can take to ensure this happens,” Ms Brown said.
Please note that Shani Cassidy will not be making any further statements to the media.
For further comment or information, please contact: HRLC Executive Director, Hugh de Kretser, on 0403 965 340 HRLC Media and Communications Manager, Tom Clarke on 0422 545 763 or HRLC Director of Strategic Litigation, Anna Brown, via firstname.lastname@example.org or +41 775 100 850 or