Cops say there’s good reason officers train to shoot at dangerous suspects’ torsos after a legal challenge over an inquiry into a fatal siege was dismissed.
Cops say there’s good reason officers train to shoot at dangerous suspects’ torsos after a legal challenge over an inquiry into a fatal siege was dismissed.

Cops reject coroner’s fatal siege ‘Hollywood myth’

Police officers shooting at limbs during armed stand-offs is a "Hollywood myth" that doesn't work in the real world, the head of South Australia's police union says.

His comments come after the Supreme Court of SA rejected a legal challenge by police commissioner Grant Stevens following the coronial investigation of Alexander Kuskoff.

A STAR Group officer, known only as DA, shot Mr Kuskoff, 50, twice at his Elwomple property after a five-hour siege in September 2015.

Prior to the shooting, Mr Kuskoff, who was suffering from delusions and psychosis, had been firing shots indiscriminately and attempted to shoot down a police helicopter.

SES members search the scene where Alexander Kuskoff was fatally shot near Tailem Bend. Picture: Dylan Coker
SES members search the scene where Alexander Kuskoff was fatally shot near Tailem Bend. Picture: Dylan Coker

Deputy State Coroner Anthony Schapel's inquest into the fatal siege culminated last August. He suggested SA Police could review their policy of aiming at the body's centre of mass and instead aim for limbs.

"The evidence … revealed that there is in existence, and was at the time within which this inquest is concerned, a policy within SAPOL against the use of extremity shooting," Mr Schapel wrote in his report.

"The (body-mass) policy might well give rise to an appropriate and lawful defensive response in many cases. However, there may be occasions in which the shooting of a person with the torso as a target, with an accompanying intention to kill, will not be regarded as necessary …"

Police Association Mark Carroll said on Thursday: "Shooting for an extremity is a Hollywood myth".

"It looks good in movies, but it doesn't work in the real world."

The Supreme Court of South Australia has shut down a legal challenge by SA Police relating to the coronial investigation of Alexander Kuskoff, who was shot dead by an officer in 2015. Picture: Dylan Coker
The Supreme Court of South Australia has shut down a legal challenge by SA Police relating to the coronial investigation of Alexander Kuskoff, who was shot dead by an officer in 2015. Picture: Dylan Coker

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Mr Carroll said it is standard policy for law enforcement around the world to aim at the torso, and the union sees no reason for SA Police to review their policy.

"It is the best place to aim, it gives the highest chance of incapacitating the suspect and thus protecting the public."

The Full Court of the Supreme Court agreed Mr Schapel's comments were not given as an official recommendation or finding, but rather as a "cautionary note".

SA Police, nonetheless, argued Mr Schapel did not have jurisdiction to make such comments and took the challenge to court.

The commissioner, and DA, also challenged several of Mr Schapel's findings about the shooting itself, saying they were "erroneous (and) unsupported by the evidence".

The two-pronged appeal was shut down on Wednesday.

SA Police and police minister Corey Wingard have been contacted for comment.

Originally published as Cops reject coroner's fatal siege 'Hollywood myth'



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