A knife-wielding man was tasered by police in a busy shopping centre at Frenchs Forest yesterday.

Just after 4.00pm yesterday afternoon (Wednesday, 13 December), shoppers at Forestway Shopping Centre, Forest Way, Frenchs Forest, were shocked by an agitated man who was armed with a knife.

Initial fears the man may have been intent on robbery faded as it became apparent he was ‘deeply troubled’, according to at least two concerned onlookers. The situation was tense however as the man was behaving erratically and yelling incoherently.

Officers attached to Northern Beaches Police Area Command, who happened to be patrolling nearby at the shopping centre, called for backup and approached the man. A number of police units responded to the scene, and the man was surrounded by officers near the Grace Avenue entry to the shopping centre.

Forestway Shopping Centre

The man was repeatedly told to put down the knife and surrender. He was sprayed with Oleoresin Capsicum (OC) spray, which had no effect, before a police officer who managed to get behind the man caused him to be distracted long enough for another officer to use a taser on him, causing him to be incapacitated.

Captain of Cottage Point Rural Fire Brigade Jon Russell was off duty at the shopping centre when events unfolded, and described the scene as ‘shocking’. He said a number of patrons of the centre were visibly upset by the ordeal, and described the police actions as ‘entirely appropriate and professional’ to safely subdue the man.

“They did everything by the book. They were telling him to put the knife down, loudly and forcefully, and he was not complying. The pepper spray had no effect, so they took him down with a taser. It could have been a far worse outcome,” said Mr Russell.

Man tasered at Frenchs Forest

A NSW Police spokesperson confirmed a 19-year-old man was taken into police custody and taken directly to Northern Beaches Hospital, where it is understood he underwent a mental health assessment.

“About 4.00pm Wednesday, 13 December, officers attached to Northern Beaches Police Area Command were patrolling the Frenchs Forest area when they observed a male behaving in an erratic manner.

“Upon approaching the man he allegedly threatened officers while armed with a weapon. Police deployed OC spray and a taser before the man was arrested and taken under guard to Northern Beaches Hospital for assessment,” said the NSW Police spokesperson.

NSW Police guidelines on the use of tasers state that it must not be drawn unless the officer considers it is likely they will be justified in using it. Criteria for the use of a taser include:

  • To protect human life
  • Where violent confrontation or violent resistance is occurring or imminent
  • To protect officers in danger of being overpowered
  • To protect officers or another person from the risk of actual bodily harm
  • To protect officers or others from animals

No crime scene was established at the shopping centre and no other injuries were reported.

Images: Jon Russell, Northern Beaches Advocate

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