Police in pursuit of Friday’s deadly Bourke Street car attack had several chances to intervene, a Police Union secretary, claims.
Detective Senior Sergeant Ron Iddles argued officers in pursuit of the alleged offender were presented with opportunities to intercept but their superiors instructed against it, according to The Age.
He argued the accused driver was stuck in heavy traffic on Chapel Street between 10am and 11.30am, which he said would have been the opportune time to act.
"It couldn't move. That's the appropriate time to take a car out," he told the newspaper.
In the wake of the deadly rampage that killed five and injured dozens, Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton defended officers' actions on 3AW radio, saying here were feelings of “what-ifs”, but backed their decisions “100 per cent”.
Mr Ashton said he supported the police actions, including a decision to call off the pursuit when the alleged offender was driving erratically.
“Everything I’m seeing is pointing to police members just tying to make decisions on the run, split-second decisions, life or death decisions, on how to apprehend an offender.
"You're in a position where you have to make those calls and make them in your best judgment and certainly these officers, everything tells me, they're making decisions at the time around what's best for the community and what’s going to get the best for community safety," Mr Ashton said.
He told Neil Mitchell on Monday “split-second decisions” were made based on the circumstances at the time, without foreseeing the tragedy that would follow.
"From my perspective, all decisions the officers made were in the interests of trying to protect community safety,'' he said.
“You look for opportunities, and decisions are made as to the safest course of action.
“The decisions had to be made at the time and I’m confident they were making them around for the right reasons. There would have been opportunities to do things, and opportunities were attempted by members.
“People are going to be making decisions not knowing what happens next. They don’t know the consequences like we know today,” he said.
Mitchell told the Commissioner he heard of reports police had several chances to “ram” the offender’s car, but Mr Ashton said there was no information in the logs that reflected that.
The radio host asked Mr Ashton his view on ramming, saying Senior Sergeant Iddles believed the tactic should be permitted.
“[There would be] exceptional circumstances if a car is rammed,” the Commissioner said.
“If you ram a car you are going to risk injury to police members. It’s for safety reasons, safety is our number one priority for police members… ‘blocking in’ is a different strategy.”
The Victorian State Coroner Sara Hinchey confirmed a coronial investigation had begun immediately.
She would examine the entire event, including police endeavours to catch the man, the role of the justice system in previous dealings with the alleged offender and issues around his alleged mental health and drug abuse.