The New South Wales Police Force‘s decision to hold off on storming the Sydney Lindt café during the 2014 siege has been seriously criticised, as a state coroner hands down the findings of an all-encompassing inquest.
Michael Barnes today said the choice to hold off on “direct action,” ie. storming the café after Man Haron Monis first fired his weapon at escaping hostages, was a serious misstep. By the time police entered the premises, Monis had already killed remaining hostage Tori Johnson.
Barnes said Monis’ first shot “made it clear there was little to no chance of resolving the siege, and those within the cafe were at an extreme risk of harm,” and that “the 10 minutes that lapsed without decisive action by police was too long.”
The coroner suggested a potential police focus on “contain and negotiate” strategies may not work in terror-related circumstances. However, he placed no blame for the deaths of Johnson and other hostage Katrina Dawson on NSW Police.
Earlier, family members of the siege’s victims had also criticised the police response. Speaking to Four Corners, Dawson’s brother Angus said “the idea that we had to wait for somebody to be killed or seriously injured before the police would act was staggering.”
Barnes’ findings come after a huge 18-month investigation into the siege, in which Monis was also killed by the police.