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"Victoria police sacrificed our families" - Moving report on Melbourne's Bourke Street killings from The Age -

Thank you to Erin Pearson at The Age.

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By
Erin Pearson

Melinda Tan said her husband Matthew Si, 33,  was "sacrificed" due to police complacency on the day James Gargasoulas drove through the CBD.

"The whole plan was hinging on this one person negotiating with the offender," she told the final day of the inquest into the tragedy on Wednesday.

"You cannot negotiate with a psychopath with text messages."

Junpei Kanno, whose younger brother Yosuke Kanno was killed that day, said his family had been "abandoned" by Australia – a country they now see as being "generous to criminals but cold-hearted to their victims".

"I see Australia as a country where you are murdered just because you happen to be walking on the streets while the killer is guaranteed a cooked meal," he said in a statement read to the inquest.

Bourke Street victim Yosuke Kanno.

Bourke Street victim Yosuke Kanno.

He said senior police had failed to acknowledge their own faults, instead shifting the blame onto rank-and-file officers.

Ms Tan said that even with hindsight, many police couldn't say how they would have done things differently to stop the murderous driver.

"In other words, our families had to be sacrificed," she said.

"If this is the best Victoria Police has to offer, then we are better off protecting ourselves."

Matthew Si, with daughter Aria and wife Melinda Tan.

Matthew Si, with daughter Aria and wife Melinda Tan.

Ms Tan accused certain officers of being more concerned with protecting their careers than the public that day.

"There are, however, officers in Victoria Police who remain egoistic and not willing to admit to their mistakes. You cannot effect change with that attitude," she said.

"You should not wear a badge or carry the title if you’re not willing to risk yourself for the safety of the public."

Ms Tan added: "Our young daughter Aria asked me the other day, why did Papa have to die? I will leave that for Victoria Police to answer."

Bourke Street families target police mistakes
 

She blamed complacency for what happened and said "the whole plan hinged" on Detective Senior Constable Murray Gentner pleading with Gargasoulas via phone and text messages to surrender as he drove around the city.

Mr Si's father, Kheng Si, struggled to understand the events leading to that day and how Gargasoulas was on bail, despite multiple prior breaches, and then eluded law enforcers as he continue to offend.

He said it was "unbelievable" all the resources of the police force could not subdue him.

"Over the last three years it has been very difficult for me to understand, let alone accept, one single offender possibly only armed with a knife ... was able to challenge a contingent of law enforcement officers and win," he said.

"I have the impression that on January 20, 2017, the different police units were fragmented, there was no overall leader and there was reluctance for teamwork among the various units.

"There seems to be no accountability. There was acknowledgement of victims' pain, agony and sufferings but no formal apology."

Three-month-old Zachary Bryant, 10-year-old Thalia Hakin, Jess Mudie, 22, and Bhavita Patel, 33, were also killed in the rampage.

Matthew Bryant shed tears as he spoke of his son Zachary, who died after Gargasoulas hit the infant's pram with his stolen Holden Commodore.

"I hate knowing my son's death had to be the catalyst for change," he said.

Coroner Jacqui Hawkins adjourned the inquest until May 25 and extended condolences to affected family members, urging them to take care of themselves.

"This trauma may resurface in a different way now the inquest has concluded," she said.

 

Melinda Tan, wife of Matthew Si

"We are forced to hear that nothing could have been done and that the outcome may not have changed even if other actions were taken. In other words, our families had to be sacrificed on that day. If this is the best that Victoria Police can offer, then we are better off protecting ourselves. 

"There were some officers who offered their heartfelt apologies to the families. Although it does not bring my husband back, it helped to know that others were suffering with us. There are, however, officers in Victoria Police who remain egoistic, who will not admit to their mistakes and are not willing to learn from this incident. Certain officers were more focused on their careers and safety rather than protecting the public.

"The offender's intelligence on the police was apparently more effective than the force's against him. He knew what unmarked cars looked like and that they would stop pursuing him the moment he drove recklessly … The offender must be the luckiest person on this planet."

Kheng Si, father of Matthew Si

"The emotional and physical sufferings of the victims will linger forever. Over the past three years it has been very difficult for me to understand, let alone accept that one single offender, possibly only armed with a knife and driving in a stolen car was able to challenge a contingent of law enforcement officers and won.

"Various issues have been identified but there seem to be no accountability. The evidence presented in court last week highlighted that the tragic events of January 20, 2017 were unavoidable. I was led to believe that it had to happen and nothing could be done about it as every officer acted in good faith.

"There was acknowledgment of the victim's pain, agony and sufferings but not a formal apology. As I have not ventilated my grief and frustration, myself and my family would like to thank our legal team ... and a sincere thank you to everyone who helped Matthew, the first responders, paramedics, hospital staffs, doctors, nurses who tried so hard to save Matthew despite his unsurvivable injuries."

Sue Si, mother of Matthew Si

"Over the past three years, I have seen the pain, struggles and courage in each member of my family to cope with the full loss of Matthew. We were a happy family before this and had many happy days to look forward to. Now, it's only one day at a time."

Masayuki Kanno, father of Yosuke Kanno

"The records of the statements which was provided to us contains many comments expressing self-justifications by those who are involved. Or they can even be seen as blame shifting. The statements appear to be limited to what actions each personnel have taken and what their basis for those actions were. There are no words of remorse."

 

Junpei Kanno, brother of Yosuke Kanno (read by a relative)

"All the apologies are coming from those officers who were at the scene, however, on the other hand, I think those who were in controlling and supervisory roles have not acknowledged their own fault in failing to understand the skills of the officers working under their command and the situation those officers were in before making decisions.

"I see Australia as a country where you are murdered just because you just happen to be walking on the streets, while the killer is guaranteed a warm bed and cooked meal, as well as medical care to fulfil his life.

"Humans are animals that can die from sadness. The condition of our grandmother's dementia seems to have worsened since the incident. My father now drinks more than he used to. Every month, my mother goes to my brother's grave, whether it is in the heat of summer or on a cold winter day, despite the travel taking more than three hours. And as for myself, I have become a cold-hearted person."

Nawwar Hassan-Bryant, mother of Zachary Bryant

"Zachary was our second baby and he was just perfect. He was the true definition of that word in every way. From the moment he was born till we laid him down to rest, he was perfect. It gives us comfort to know he will always be safe in heaven and he'll be waiting for Matt and I and his sister Zara and his brother Zane to see him again soon."

Matthew Bryant, father of Zachary Bryant

"I hate knowing that my son's death had to be the catalyst for change but I hope that whatever outcomes follow meaningfully prevent incidents of this nature occurring again."

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