Traffic cop spared his job after shooting at stolen car
A SUNSHINE Coast traffic cop, who was disciplined for firing shots at a moving vehicle, has avoided demotion for excessive use of force.
A family tragedy involving Senior Constable Michael Sperling's brother-in-law was referenced as a possible factor behind him shooting a vehicle three times while on duty on the Bruce Hwy at Beerburrum in 2012.
Snr Const Sperling was working just after midnight on June 22, 2012, when an approaching vehicle was recognised as being stolen.
Documents in Snr Const Sperling's Queensland Civil Administration Tribunal hearing stated the police officer stepped out on the road to stop the vehicle.
The car did not stop and as a result, Snr Const Sperling threw his torch at the car as it passed through the interception site.
Only six minutes had passed when another approaching vehicle was identified as stolen.
It also did not stop as directed.
"This time, however, Snr Const Sperling drew his firearm and fired at the car," the document read.
"One bullet hit the driver's side rear door.
"Two bullets hit the rear of the car.
"One of those bullets passed through the boot, perforated the rear seat, passed through the cabin between the car's passengers and perforated an air vent on the dashboard."
Snr Const Sperling's torch was later recovered from the first car.
His actions were initially viewed as a breach of discipline but a review was called for by the Crime and Corruption Commission, which viewed the actions as misconduct.
A demotion was sought by the commission.
But in deciding a sanction, the tribunal took into account the 1996 death of Snr Const Sperling's brother-in-law Constable Shayne Gill.
Const Gill was on radar duty with the Sunshine Coast Traffic Branch when he was hit by a vehicle and killed on the Bruce Hwy at Glasshouse Mountain on May 21, 1996.
"Snr Const Sperling submits that, because of this incident, he has a heightened sense of self-protection whilst on traffic duty."
An order was made that Snr Const Sperling be demoted to the rank of constable but that the demotion be suspended for 12 months from December 3 last year.
This means it would only be activated if he's found guilty of another disciplinary matter.