Officers had no option but to shoot a teenager in the chest after he allegedly threatened them with a knife when they responded to a domestic disturbance at his home, the police union has said.
The 16-year-old boy who was shot by officers at a home in Springfield in Ipswich, south-west of Brisbane, on Wednesday afternoon, has been identified as Jai Hunt.
Police said they were forced to open fire after the teenager allegedly threatened officers with a knife when they tried to enter the house.
The boy was taken to Brisbane’s Princess Alexandra Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries where he is in a stable condition.
The Queensland Police Union’s president Ian Leavers said tasering the boy was not an option and the officers had cause to use their firearms.
“When things happen in an instant you only have one option … Tasers are an option, but they’re not always possible given the circumstances at the time and police had to use force to protect their lives,” he said.
He said officers did not initially know how old Jai was.
“What we do know is police were confronted with at the scene and it was with a male person and the age was not apparent at the time,” Mr Leavers said.
The incident sparked a heated debate online with some Facebook users believing the police used excessive force.
“I think shooting him in the chest is a bit extreme they could have at least brought him down by shooting his legs if was that necessary,” Josh Riley commented.
“Why are police issued with Tasers when the first thing they reach for is always a gun? The kid had a knife only for crying out loud,” Heike Gould posted.
Nicki Smith did not think it was fair the teenager was shot.
“So all those officers couldn’t work together to take him down without harm … Knife Vs gun we all know who will win.”
But there were plenty of people who defended the actions of the officers.
“Could have ended bad for the cops if they didn’t shoot him just cause he’s 16 doesn’t give him a free pass to stab someone,” Ryan West said.
“Police are trained to stop an offender, if you shoot at the leg and miss, you may hit someone else … Centre body mass largest target of the human body let’s not forget you only have about a second to make this decision,” Jamie Boyd agreed.
Police blocking the Springfield street where officers shot Jai Hunt. (ABC News: Jennifer Huxley)
“It’s quite horrific… I just hope he survives the injury and gets back to the community and himself,” he said. Mr Leavers said the union would be supporting the officers involved “every step of the way”.
“These types of events have a traumatic effect upon not only police as well as the family involved … They are co-operating with ethical standards command and look forward to returning to work,” Mr Leavers said.
An investigation into the incident is underway.
Ethan Hann, who lives down the road from the teenager, said the incident was very “out of the blue”.
“The whole area is just quiet, there’s never really any trouble … it makes you worry what’s going on around here,” he said.
Decklyn Malivoire, who also lives nearby, said he often rides past the house but has never seen anything out of the ordinary.
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