Police torment leads to death of Newcastle mother, calls for inquiry into police escalate


The family of Newcastle woman Krista Kach who was killed by NSW Police in Newcastle last week have released a statement describing Ms Kach as caring deeply about her family and community and police actions that led to her death as ‘disturbing’. The statement follows news overnight of another critical incident in which police shot a man when they were called out for a welfare check in Darlinghurst.

Greens MP and spokesperson for justice Sue Higginson has called on the government to support a Parliamentary Inquiry into NSW Police responses to vulnerable people through a Select Committee since police tasered 95-year-old dementia patient Clare Nowland to death in May and killed four people in as many months who were experiencing mental health distress. The NSW Government has so far failed to issue a comprehensive response to the successive killings by police that have occurred in recent months and has signalled no agenda to address what is clearly a systemic problem.

Over four hours of video footage leading up to the police breaking into Ms Kach’s home that has emerged show her scared, alone, unarmed and experiencing a mental health episode while armed police dressed in riot gear hover on the verandah outside her window in relentless pursuit of her.

“It’s hard to fathom the extent to which our system has failed Krista and her family.” Sue Higginson said. “The four and half hours of video footage shows a system that fails vulnerable people. Why did we do this to Krista and her family? We must never let this happen again”.

“I can not unsee what I have seen. A woman in her own home who was not being a threat to anyone, alone and clearly experiencing some form of psychosis was relentlessly pursued and tormented by a large number of heavily armed police officers on her property.

“A family member, who I have spoken to, told police at the scene that she was having mental health issues and needed medical help. They also asked if they could speak to their mother to help and to try to calm her, but the police said to the effect, no that doesn’t normally work.

“Police could see she was unarmed, she told them consistently for hours on end that she was safe and that they, in number dressed in black riot gear heavily clad with lethal weapons, were the only thing that was unsafe and making her feel unsafe.

“Ms Kach was lying on her bed watching a children’s movie for at least an hour before the police broke into her home, you have to ask what the hell was the purpose of the police operation.

“The police are not equipped to deal with such situations, that's why we keep seeing vulnerable people killed at the hands of police. Police responses and protocols escalate situations because they are driven by capture, custody and punishment. None of these outcomes were appropriate or required to deal with Krista. Nothing Krista had allegedly done early that day, apparently pertaining to a property issue, warranted the siege, the relentless pursuit and the torment which resulted in her death.

“What’s also astounding is the following day NSW Police assistant commissioner Peter McKenna when addressing the media said “We don’t have any information at this point in time about mental health issues” and said he couldn’t comment on whether police brought in Krista’s family to negotiate.

“We must make this a turning point. I have now escalated my calls to the Government and the opposition to support the establishment of a Select Committee of Inquiry which can look into police responses to vulnerable people and accountability.” Ms Higginson said.

For media contact call Greens MP Sue Higginson 0428 227 363