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Canberra police shooting victim awarded $8 million.

Charlotte 10 June 2011 163

The ABC informs us that Canberra man Jonathon Crowley has been awarded an $8 million payout in the ACT Supreme Court after being left a quadriplegic when police shot him in the neck in 2001.

A Canberra man who was left a quadriplegic after being shot in the neck by police has been awarded $8 million in compensation.

In 2001 Jonathon Crowley suffered a psychotic episode in Chapman and assaulted several people with a bamboo martial arts stick.

When police officers could not subdue him with capsicum spray, Senior Constable Glenn Pitkethly shot him in the neck.

The 43-year-old is now a quadriplegic and relies on help from his elderly parents.

In 2008, the family took the matter to the ACT Supreme Court, arguing negligence on the part of the police officer, the Australian Federal Police and ACT Mental Health.

Last month, three years after reserving her decision, Justice Hilary Penfold found the officer negligent along with the other two parties.

She has now awarded Mr Crowley $8 million in damages.


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163 Responses to Canberra police shooting victim awarded $8 million.
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goquietly goquietly 4:02 pm 06 Jun 13

A Canberra man rendered quadriplegic after being shot by police 11 years ago, the day after his family refused to have him admitted to hospital for psychiatric care, has been refused special leave to appeal a decision to deny him millions of dollars in damages in the High Court on Thursday.

Mr Crowley is wheelchair-bound and has a level of spinal cord injury which does not preclude a relatively independent life. However due to prior and continuing mental health issues/overuse of cannabis he is massively overweight, has ongoing health issues, requires around-the-clock care, and relies on his ageing parents to oversee his care and expenses.

That’s more like it.

bundah bundah 2:47 pm 06 Jun 13

P Taker said :

http://www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/crowley-denied-leave-to-appeal-20130606-2nrlo.html

More news on this case was released today by the Canberra Times.

Having read the court of appeals judgement it was clear that Penfold substantially erred in awarding Crowley the $8m so it’s not surprising the High Court dismissed leave to appeal.No question that he was insane when shot by police and given everything that’s occurred and the pain he’s endured he probably wishes the plod were more accurate.

kumadude kumadude 2:14 pm 06 Jun 13

MR Crowley, great song: pentatonic solo followed by melodic. Great study in composition.

P Taker P Taker 1:21 pm 06 Jun 13

http://www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/crowley-denied-leave-to-appeal-20130606-2nrlo.html

More news on this case was released today by the Canberra Times.

LSWCHP LSWCHP 9:22 pm 02 Jan 13

DrKoresh said :

Tetranitrate said :

It sounds like an excellent situation in which to deploy a Taser though. Obviously the original incident was in 2001, but I’d hope that if a similar thing was to occur now a Taser would be used rather than a firearm.

It does help to remember that this occurred at the dawn of the 21st century, but it still seems like they could have bludgeoned him or something.

They did try to bludgeon him. A baton is a great big heavy bludgeon, that can break bones and knock brains out. But the perp used his bludgeon, which was apparently an innocuous lightweight piece of bamboo that wouldn’t wouldn’t hurt a mouse, to knock the police officers purpose built, industrial strength heavy duty bludgeon that he’d been trained to use, right out of his hands. This left the poor bugger with the choice (as far as I can tell) of shoot or die. It’s a bummer for everybody involved, but I reckon he made the right choice.

Sometimes there’s just no winners.

OpenYourMind OpenYourMind 11:25 pm 01 Jan 13

LSWCHP said :

And regarding the neck shot, versus shooting in the knee etc…

I started shooting handguns over 30 years ago, and I’d probably fire about 3000 rounds of centrefire pistol ammunition each year in competition and practice. My experience has been that even in relatively stress free competition shooting, what is aimed at and what is hit are frequently two different things. I’ve seen people repeatedly have clean misses on stationary man-sized sized targets at 7 yards, and I’ve done it myself more than once, though not so much these days. In most rapid fire close range unsighted serials, a neck area hit on the first shot while not desirable isn’t impossible, even for an experienced shooter.

If the police really only fire a few dozen rounds of ammo to qualify each year, then making a one shot hit anywhere on the target under the circumstances described in this incident qualifies as a miracle.

You clearly don’t watch enough American action movies. A pistol in the hands of a good guy can take out a plane, pick off every bad guy with an automatic weapon or unlock a padlock.

DrKoresh DrKoresh 5:06 pm 01 Jan 13

Tetranitrate said :

It sounds like an excellent situation in which to deploy a Taser though. Obviously the original incident was in 2001, but I’d hope that if a similar thing was to occur now a Taser would be used rather than a firearm.

It does help to remember that this occurred at the dawn of the 21st century, but it still seems like they could have bludgeoned him or something. I don’t know, I mean I’m not a police officer and have never been in that kind of situation, and I understand that Mr. Crowley may have posed a significant threat while he had the weapon but the ultimate outcome is still tragic. I mean, shit, paraplegia? I don’t know if death might have been preferable, I’m sure Crowley must feel the same way sometimes.

But what can you do? Today marks the passing of a school-mate who was taken unfairly well before his time. I guess life just isn’t meant to be fair.

LSWCHP LSWCHP 4:34 pm 01 Jan 13

Tetranitrate said :

LSWCHP said :

Skidd Marx said :

A big scary bamboo stick? Give me a break.

If I understand the events, one police officer had been beaten to the deck, and the second officer, trained in the use of the baton, had had it knocked from his hands. He could have thought “Oh, what I’m being beaten with by this madman is merely a shinai, which is a light bamboo implement incapable of doing me any serious harm so I will cop this flogging and all will be well” but it seems unlikely that anybody would actually think that way.

It sounds like an excellent situation in which to deploy a Taser though. Obviously the original incident was in 2001, but I’d hope that if a similar thing was to occur now a Taser would be used rather than a firearm.

Yes indeedy.

I have concerns about the potential misuse of Tasers, but I’d much rather be Tased than shot any day.

Tetranitrate Tetranitrate 1:06 pm 01 Jan 13

LSWCHP said :

Skidd Marx said :

A big scary bamboo stick? Give me a break.

If I understand the events, one police officer had been beaten to the deck, and the second officer, trained in the use of the baton, had had it knocked from his hands. He could have thought “Oh, what I’m being beaten with by this madman is merely a shinai, which is a light bamboo implement incapable of doing me any serious harm so I will cop this flogging and all will be well” but it seems unlikely that anybody would actually think that way.

It sounds like an excellent situation in which to deploy a Taser though. Obviously the original incident was in 2001, but I’d hope that if a similar thing was to occur now a Taser would be used rather than a firearm.

LSWCHP LSWCHP 9:47 pm 31 Dec 12

And regarding the neck shot, versus shooting in the knee etc…

I started shooting handguns over 30 years ago, and I’d probably fire about 3000 rounds of centrefire pistol ammunition each year in competition and practice. My experience has been that even in relatively stress free competition shooting, what is aimed at and what is hit are frequently two different things. I’ve seen people repeatedly have clean misses on stationary man-sized sized targets at 7 yards, and I’ve done it myself more than once, though not so much these days. In most rapid fire close range unsighted serials, a neck area hit on the first shot while not desirable isn’t impossible, even for an experienced shooter.

If the police really only fire a few dozen rounds of ammo to qualify each year, then making a one shot hit anywhere on the target under the circumstances described in this incident qualifies as a miracle.

LSWCHP LSWCHP 7:44 pm 31 Dec 12

Skidd Marx said :

A big scary bamboo stick? Give me a break.

If I understand the events, one police officer had been beaten to the deck, and the second officer, trained in the use of the baton, had had it knocked from his hands. He could have thought “Oh, what I’m being beaten with by this madman is merely a shinai, which is a light bamboo implement incapable of doing me any serious harm so I will cop this flogging and all will be well” but it seems unlikely that anybody would actually think that way.

With your mate down, maybe crippled or dying, and your life apparently in peril, would you deliberately decide to be maimed or killed, or would you draw and shoot in the hope that you’d go home to your wife and children that evening? I know what I’d do.

I have nothing but sympathy for the officers involved.

VicePope VicePope 4:21 pm 31 Dec 12

This case is one of the hard ones. Police had to respond, but the response led to catastrophic injury. The courts are best placed to assess whether the police response breached any duty they may have had to Mr Crowley (and the appeal suggests little or none).

The fact that a considered decision (to compensate) can be made and then overturned suggests that the decision falls somewhere near the borderline. It may be the kind of case (like the swimmer/sandbar cases) that should have people talking about no-fault compensation as an alternative to the feast or famine answer.

Duffbowl Duffbowl 2:32 pm 31 Dec 12

Skidd Marx said :

A big scary bamboo stick? Give me a break.

Until you’ve been beaten with one, they look fairly innocuous. A mate of mine was attacked with a cane in Singapore’s Little India by someone who was having a break from reality. The assailant wasn’t particularly big, but was swinging like there was no tomorrow. It took four people to haul him off my mate, who had copped it for 5 or so minutes. Three weeks in hospital in Singapore, then flown to Brisbane where he spent a couple of months in physio.

Tooks Tooks 2:05 pm 31 Dec 12

Skidd Marx said :

I think Crowley & his long-suffering parents are entitled to every cent. Maybe now the police will realise how under-trained they are with regards to mental health issues. Furthermore the decision-making on that day from the cops involved was both inept and reckless. A big scary bamboo stick? Give me a break.

Yawn…another expert who clearly hasn’t even read the judgement. He didn’t get a cent and I’m glad the right decision was made. Crowley was a massive unit who would be capable of doing damage with any weapon. If you ever face an angry psychotic man you may learn something. Unlikely for a shiny bum like you though.

Skidd Marx Skidd Marx 1:19 pm 31 Dec 12

I think Crowley & his long-suffering parents are entitled to every cent. Maybe now the police will realise how under-trained they are with regards to mental health issues. Furthermore the decision-making on that day from the cops involved was both inept and reckless. A big scary bamboo stick? Give me a break.

Tool Tool 12:43 pm 31 Dec 12

This is the age old scenario of what came first the chicken or the egg? yes now things are bad for Mr Crowley and his family, and I am sure he feels sorry for himself every day, but had he not been a prolonged drug abuser would he have gone into the ‘psychotic state’ which caused his current situation?

Yes the mental health system needs to improve, but I think people also need to accept responsibility for their own actions. Drug induced psychosis happens a lot, but heaven forbid anyone condemn a poor addict for their life choices, it is always the fault of someone else.

Thumper Thumper 11:35 am 31 Dec 12

Shoot for the centre of mass, that’s what they teach all law enforcement folks

Have you ever fired a hand gun? Unlike what is portrayed on television, they are incredibly inaccurate and even moreso when the firer is under pressure. The reason you shoot for the centre of mass is because you are more likely to hit the target, as opposed to shooting at the knees for instance.

All in all, however, this is a sorry story.

Grumpy Old Fart Grumpy Old Fart 10:19 am 31 Dec 12

Dr Koresh said

Shoot for the centre of mass, that’s what they teach all law enforcement folks. The neck isn’t the centre of mass, unless I’m much mistaken. A ninja stick may well be deadly in the hands of a ninja but I’m not so sure about someone who’s lost the plot. I don’t think Crowley should be given a butt-load of cash for committing a violent crime, but I’m disturbed by the fact that he was rendered a quadriplegic due to police actions. Paraplegia or even death would be understandable but this whole situation seems kinda f**ked-up. I mean, can you really blame someone suffering a psychotic break?

Aiming for the centre mass is what is taught but that does not mean the target will comply and stay still. The Police followed the training as provided Mr Crowley was the non compliant offender hell bent on rearranging the Police officer with what can be a lethal weapon.

Girt_Hindrance Girt_Hindrance 10:12 am 31 Dec 12

DrKoresh said :

Girt_Hindrance said :

kakosi said :

You can’t expect a mentally ill person to understand or comply with a police order because well, they’re MENTALLY ILL. If I was being sarcastic I’d say why not shoot everyone that’s mentally ill (like they did in Hitler’s Germany)?

But realistically, the answer would seem to lie in re-establishing more longer-term hospital care and perhaps specialist mental health facilities to get some very sick and sometimes dangerous people into proper care.

I’d be happy for an increase in care and specialist mental health facilities and all that, but I’m also quite happy for the Police to take action required to protect themselves from any person who seems hell bent on inflicting their own issues on the public and Police.
I also think there’s a huge leap from shooting this guy who had a Police Officer in the ‘foetal position’ under a barrage of a beating, to your ‘sarcastic suggestion’ of ending the lives of anyone with a mental illness.
Cheers for the Hitler reference tho.

Shoot for the centre of mass, that’s what they teach all law enforcement folks. The neck isn’t the centre of mass, unless I’m much mistaken. A ninja stick may well be deadly in the hands of a ninja but I’m not so sure about someone who’s lost the plot. I don’t think Crowley should be given a butt-load of cash for committing a violent crime, but I’m disturbed by the fact that he was rendered a quadriplegic due to police actions. Paraplegia or even death would be understandable but this whole situation seems kinda f**ked-up. I mean, can you really blame someone suffering a psychotic break?

I don’t think anyone in their right mind could blame someone for not being in theirs, but I also don’t think they need to take a beating for it. I also don’t see how the Police could know how well this guy could use his bamboo stick to the detriment of others. I previously didn’t understand why Police used firearms against someone with a knife, but the fact is that some rare individuals can throw a blade more accurately than an inexperienced person can fire a gun.
I agree with your comments about centre of mass shooting, although I don’t see why the Police would want to deliberately hit this guy with a bullet in the head or neck, especially in an area where the public were about. These mistakes can happen, and as others previously have said, it’s taken multiple years to examine what the Officers had to deal with in seconds.
I also agree that the outcomes could have included a multitude of differences, I’m quite glad that this person hasn’t died, nor that have they profited from their whatever motivated attack on others.

bundah bundah 9:53 am 31 Dec 12

I notice that the judges who heard the appeal are all Federal court judges.One has to wonder if there would have been a different outcome if it had been heard by the usual suspects.

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