Thursday, August 24, 2023
Mackay and Whitsunday Life
The grieving mother of Luke Gilbert, who was tragically killed in a police shooting in Airlie Beach six months ago, is calling for an independent inquiry to bring the officers who she believes should be “charged with murder” to justice.
Nicola Gilbert believes that investigations so far have centred around Luke and his role in the incident, rather than the officers who she believes used unnecessary force.
“We have to fight to get any information at all and then when we do it’s very one-sided and vague,” she said.
“You cannot have a police force being allowed to get away with the most abhorrent crime in the world, taking the life of another, simply because they wear a uniform.
“It’s too late to save our son, nothing we do will bring him back, but we can try to save other lives from being lost needlessly.”
On October 1 last year, Luke Gilbert, who resided in Townsville, had been visiting the Whitsundays on an unplanned trip to help a mate who had been experiencing car trouble.
Nicola said that Luke was not expecting to travel that day and was still wearing his work uniform which included a small pen knife on his belt which he used as a tool.
He decided to stay in Airlie Beach for the night and was walking to another pub just after midnight when the fateful incident occurred.
Nicola has since been told that when Luke saw two police officers, he covered his pen knife with his hand so that he wouldn’t get stopped.
She believes Luke then passed another two officers while still covering the knife with his hand and, because he was intoxicated, almost bumped into them.
“The officers asked if he was ok and when Luke didn’t respond, they noticed he was covering something,” said Nicola.
“Luke then unclipped the pen knife to show them, only walking slowly towards them.”
In contrast, a Queensland Police report stated that Luke “allegedly threatened officers advancing on them”.
Nicola said that officers then drew their firearms and pointed them at Luke which “escalated the situation very quickly” and likely caused him to be “terrified and confused”.
She asks why a taser or pepper spray was not used in the first instance, rather than a firearm.
“Luke had been walking slowly, they were backing away quicker than him, he did not launch at or threaten the officers at any point,” she said.
“Luke had his arms down by his side approximately 20 feet from the officers when they opened fire only 18 seconds after they stopped him.
“Luke was shot at five times by both officers, three went into his chest and two hit nearby cars.”
When Luke fell to the ground, Nicola says that the police officers turned him onto his stomach and handcuffed his arms behind his back.
“It was seven minutes before the police attempted to give Luke CPR,” she said.
Luke died a short time after arriving at Proserpine Hospital.
Luke Gilbert with his mother, Nicola, in happier times. Photo supplied