Should Katrina Dawson and Tori Johnson have made it out alive from the Sydney siege? I think they could have if things were done differently. The Sydney siege inquest documents are on public record for us to review. You can see them here.
There are many documents to sift through but at first sight, a document record for the claim by the Police Commissioner for public interest immunity (PII) was of interest. In it the Commissioner requests that the debrief notes from the Tactical Operations Unit not be made available to the inquest, the families of Katrina Dawson and Tori Johnson and thus the public. The families rightly contested the request arguing that the TOU officers participation in the debrief process would likely mirror the inquest..."therefore officers ought not be concerned about the release of the TOU debrief notes unless the content conflicted with or undermined the evidence of witnesses at the inquest." Furthermore, the Dawson family asserted,
"the public interest in determining the manner and cause of Ms Dawson’s death outweighs the harm the Commissioner submits would flow from the notes’ disclosure."
It is crucial that all conversations, records, information and data relating to those deceased in this incident be reviewed, ergo, full disclosure and transparency. Yet the court concluded that the debrief notes added nothing of consequence to the inquest or to answering outstanding questions over the deaths of the victims of the siege.
"...including a review of the TOU debrief notes themselves, I do not consider that the public interest in the administration of justice would be frustrated by the denial of them to the two families. That is by reason of my view that the two families would not be materially assisted in the inquest by access to the documents, nor would the Court be materially assisted in those parties having such access."
The ruling upheld the commissioner's claim denying access to material that may have helped the Dawson and Johnson families find answers to why the events of the 15th and 16th of December 2014 lead to their loved one's deaths.
Still, there is ample information and reporting on the police force response units miscalculations, negotiators ill prepared, faulty equipment, poor preparation, poor communication, missed opportunities, Police Commissioner interference, Deputy Commissioner's cover up of evidence. To read more on these points visit this article.
Why did the police fail to take several key opportunities to go in when a number of hostages escaped with Monis firing shots missing them? At that point the remaining hostages were clearly unsafe but there was no response from police for 10 minutes. Only after Tori Johnson was shot by Monis and even then with delays, did the police respond.
When they finally committed to entering the cafe why did the officers engage Monis with automatic weapons firing so many rounds of ammunition into the cafe when there were still hostages inside?
This question still baffles me. Katrina Dawson was hit by fragments of police bullets and died, as were other hostages who were still in there but survived. Is this how you engage one man with a shotgun while hostages are still on site? As I tried to research this I came across a news headline that captured my confusion, "...How the siege unfolded and led to 39 seconds of hellfire". Why should that happen when tactical officers are equipped with stun grenades, night vision and trained to use low yield targeted shooting to protect hostages at all costs?