Tas police shooting suicide, coroner rules

On December 6 2019, Coroner Olivia McTaggart ruled the 2016 death of Robert Edward McInerney as suicide by police. She said a Tasmanian police officer had no choice but to shoot McInerney, who came at him with knives.

On the evening of May 24 2016, McInerney,
48, called triple zero saying he wanted police to shoot him and would throw knives at the public if they did not come to his unit, west of Burnie. In the hours before his death, he called four helplines but said he was not suicidal and discussed future appointments.

The former chef threw knives - including a carver's knife - at the officers when they arrived, prompting Senior Constable William Flynn to shoot at him four times. Coroner McTaggart said the actions of Senior Constable Flynn, an experienced police negotiator, were "exemplary".

Coroner McTaggart said Mr McInerney had serious physical and mental health issues, violent tendencies and alcohol dependence at the time. His mood "dramatically changed when he consumed alcohol that evening and he formed the intention to die".

"Although he was able to form and execute this plan, it is clear that he had no regard to the obvious danger and consequences to all others who were necessarily forced to become involved," Ms McTaggart said.

"Mr McInerney was utterly impervious to negotiation and requests to disarm himself. He was intent upon dying. Mr McInerney was shot only when there was no other choice but to do so," she said. She recommended Tasmania Police review the need for formulation of a specific policy and training response.