Australian police killed mentally ill young woman seconds after arriving at scene
18 August 2018
A New South Wales (NSW) Coroner’s Court inquest into the police killing of Courtney Topic, outside a fast food restaurant in the western Sydney suburb of Hoxton Park on February 10, 2015, has revealed that the mentally ill young woman was shot dead within 41 seconds of police officers arriving at the scene.
Topic’s tragic death was not an accident or an isolated incident. The 22-year-old working-class woman, who had never harmed anyone or committed a crime in her life, is one of a growing number of mentally ill people who have been killed by police in recent decades.
The Coroner’s Court was told that 42 percent of those shot by police in Australia between 1989 and 2011 were suffering from a mental illness. The Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s “7.30” news program also recently reported that of the 35 people fatally shot by police in NSW alone between 1997 and 2017, at least 19, or more than half, were suffering from a mental illness.
Police conducted no negotiations with Courtney Topic. Under conditions where police training in dealing with individuals suffering mental health issues is perfunctory at best and governments, state and federal alike, have slashed spending on mental health and vital social services, the disoriented 22-year-old young woman did not stand a chance.
On the morning of February 10, Topic was seen walking along Cowpasture Road in Hoxton Park. She was carrying a kitchen knife and talking to herself. A passing delivery driver, concerned for young woman’s safety, called the police, telling them, “She looks upset. She might hurt herself.”
Approximately ten minutes later, Topic was seen outside a Hungry Jacks fast food…