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Man shot and killed by police in 2020 after ramming patrol car was 'responsible for his own demise', coroner says

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The rammed Tasmania Police vehicle involved in the shooting. Image / 7 Tasmania

A corner has determined that a man shot and killed by a Tasmania Police officer in Brighton four years ago “was responsible for his own demise”.

Geoffrey Russell Mason, 38, died from a gunshot wound to the neck during an encounter with multiple Tasmania Police officers at a Tea Tree Road property on February 17, 2020.


Coroner Olivia McTaggart’s findings detail Mason’s history of violent behaviour during several interactions with police, including threatening officers with an axe.

She also noted a history of alcohol and drug abuse, mental health issues and a prior sentence in a Victorian prison for violent crimes.

In the days leading up to his death, Mason was in and out of the Royal Hobart Hospital and expressed thoughts about taking his own life.

The rammed Tasmania Police vehicle involved in the shooting. Image / 7 Tasmania

At around 7:50pm on the day of the incident, Mason, who was seen to be intoxicated, was accused of stealing alcohol from a caravan parked on the property where he had been living with his sister and her young family.

When Mason’s sister woke him from his sleep to ask if he had taken the alcohol, he became “instantly aggressive and argumentative”, allegedly pushing her and raising his fists at her husband before pulling a knife from a kitchen drawer.

The family first called 000 at 7:56pm, saying Mason was “going off” and hurling threats at them, phoning two more times at 7:59pm and 8:03pm before the first of three police units arrived at the home at 8:09pm.


At 8:11pm, Mason entered a vehicle on the property and drove it down the driveway towards a police car, ramming it and pushing it 3.5 metres.

McTaggart said the situation “escalated rapidly” over the next 22 seconds after an officer deployed road spikes and two others drew their firearms, all ordering Mason to stop and get out of the vehicle.

Mason did not comply and again drove at the officers, leaving a Sergeant to fire 11 shots at the vehicle, none of which hit Mason.

An attending Constable fired five shots, two of which struck Mason.

The officers rendered first aid and CPR, but Mason died at the scene.

Police vehicles line the road after the 2020 shooting. Image / 7 Tasmania

Coroner McTaggart concluded that the lethal force used by the officer was “justified and proportionate” to the threat posed by Mason and that the use of firearms was “fully justified”.

“The strategies, actions and decision-making of the three officers involved in this incident were sound and responsive to the rapidly escalating circumstances,” she said.

“Mr Mason had ample opportunity to submit to the process of lawful arrest but instead, was responsible for his own demise.”

Tasmania Police Commissioner Donna Adams said the officers had acted “professionally and courageously” throughout the incident and its aftermath.

“I want to personally acknowledge the officers involved and how they responded to what was a confronting, dynamic and rapidly escalating incident and the ongoing professionalism they have displayed over the last four years,” Commissioner Adams said.

Tasmania Police Commissioner Donna Adams. Image / Pulse

“This incident reminds us of the challenging environment that our police officers work in on a daily basis and the importance of our training, leadership and teamwork in responding to calls for assistance from the community.

“No police officer wishes to be faced with the circumstances of that day.”

“This was a tragic outcome for everyone involved and our thoughts and sympathies continue to be with Mr Mason’s family as well as everyone affected by this tragic incident.”

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