The Independent Police Conduct Authority has found an officer was justified in shooting and wounding a man armed with an air pistol at Flaxmere Primary School.

On December 17, 2019, police went to the school in response to a report of a man on school grounds, Derek Timu, behaving in a threatening manner.

The school was put in lockdown.

The IPCA found that when the officers approached Timu, he presented an air pistol from the front of his shorts and ran out of the school grounds, chased by three officers.

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He ran through a residential property and back into the school grounds onto the school netball court where the officers challenged him to drop his weapon.

When a police dog was released to apprehend Timu, he again pulled the air pistol from the front of his shorts and appeared to chamber a round as two officers moved towards him.

A third officer then fired one shot from his Bushmaster rifle at Timu, wounding his arm and abdomen.

He later required surgery.

Timu, 31 at the time of sentencing, is currently serving a period of 18 months imprisonment after pleading guilty to a charge of unlawfully carrying an imitation firearm.

Authority Chair Judge Colin Doherty said he accepted the officer genuinely believed Timu could seriously hurt or kill his colleagues who were exposed from cover, and he fired the shot to defend them.

On the day of the shooting at Flaxmere Primary on December 17, 2019. Photo / Warren Buckland
On the day of the shooting at Flaxmere Primary on December 17, 2019. Photo / Warren Buckland

"The Authority also accepts the only other tactical option available to the officer in the circumstances was to either do nothing or continue to shout at the man to drop the weapon," Doherty said.

"Faced with what the officer perceived as the real and imminent threat of severe injury or death to his colleagues, his actions in using the rifle were justified and reasonable."

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The Authority also found the officers complied with policy when arming themselves, and that police managed the incident appropriately to ensure their response was coordinated and properly resourced.

Timu told IPCA that he was upset that day and not thinking rationally.

He said his purpose in going to the school was to speak to his daughter who he described as having a calming influence over him.

He acknowledged he probably wouldn't have been shot if he hadn't pulled the air pistol from his pants.

He said the officers involved knew nothing about him and wouldn't have known what
sort of pistol it was.

He believed the officers probably just saw the pistol and, knowing that there were children close by, "did what he had to do".

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He said he held no anger towards police for the action they took.

Eastern District Commander Superintendent Tania Kura said the incident was an example of the "dynamic decision-making" officers were expected to make every day, in order to keep themselves and other people safe.

"This was an evolving situation where an agitated individual with a weapon posed a risk to not only our staff, but pupils and staff members of a primary school.

"I am pleased that my officers were able to exercise their good judgement and bring this matter to conclusion."