Lethal force by Qld police 'justified'

·2-min read

Over and over again, Jesse Aaron Kermode claimed he was a "Holy Spirit".

Later that day, the 26-year-old was dead, fatally shot after wielding a knife at police officers.

Kermode was likely having a psychotic episode on the day he died west of Brisbane in September 2018 and the police's use of lethal force was justified, the coroner has found.

Kermode had been addicted to drugs since a teenager, experiencing episodes of drug-induced psychosis and diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia.

On the day Kermode was shot, he stole a pack of steak knives before being seen kicking at cars, yelling and screaming.

In the next two hours he produced a knife at Redbank Railway Station, at the Ipswich platform where he threatened skateboarders and again at a supermarket after being refused a plastic shopping bag.

"Mr Kermode reportedly stated that he was a 'Holy Spirit'," the recently released December 2021 inquest findings said.

About an hour later, Kermode returned to the Ipswich station, boarding a train that authorities held while waiting for police.

Approached by two officers, Kermode pulled a steak knife from his pocket and adopted a "fighter style" before repeatedly refusing requests to drop the blade, forcing them to retreat from the carriage.

They tried to de-escalate the situation when a third officer, Sergeant Jonathan Jude, ran down to the platform when he heard "terror" in his colleagues' voices.

Kermode then rushed toward Sgt Jude, saying "kill you" or "kill".

He was 2.5 metres away from Sgt Jude when the officers fired 19 rounds, with six to seven hitting Kermode.

Kermode died from gunshot wounds to his chest and abdomen, but a pathologist found a potentially lethal amount of methamphetamine in his body.

He was on a probation order at the time of his death after being released from jail in March 2017, but his mental illness was not being treated.

However, there was no evidence of system or procedural failures that would have contributed to or prevented Kermode's death, coroner Terry Ryan said in his inquest report.

"His condition was largely treatment resistant and chronic ... (and) his ongoing use of methylamphetamine ... meant that he was vulnerable to a rapid decline in his wellbeing," he said.

"Having regard to his comments ... including that he was a 'Holy Spirit', it is likely that Mr Kermode was suffering a psychotic episode on the day of his death."

It was unlikely officers would have been unable to engage with Kermode due to his "disturbed thinking" caused by the high level of meth in his system, Mr Ryan said.

He also found use of lethal force was "justified, proportionate and tactically sound" and that police training was sufficient.

"There are no comments or recommendations to be made that would assist in preventing similar deaths in future," Mr Ryan said.

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