Thursday, May 18, 2023
Mackay and Whitsunday Life
Luke Gilbert’s 25th birthday was marked by a group of compassionate community members earlier this week, red and white flowers laid at the location of the police shooting on Airlie Beach main street where he was tragically killed in October last year.
Investigations are still ongoing, and an enquiry has been launched into his death following allegations that excessive force was used when the police fired five shots, three of which hit Luke, who was threatening them with a four-centimetre penknife.
A group of locals who are worried about their own children growing up in an era of excessive police force have reached out to support Luke Gilbert’s family, empathising about his tragic lost and hoping to raise awareness for the issues surrounding his death.
Luke Gilbert was shot and killed in a police shooting in Airlie Beach last October.
In an 18-second altercation with police, Luke pulled out a penknife with a four-centimetre blade and threatened them saying “shoot me then, faggots”.
While his family admit this behaviour is disgraceful, they maintain it did not warrant the reaction from the police.
Five shots were fired, two ricocheted into nearby cars and three hit Luke directly.
Two local residents who attended the vigil to mark what would have been Luke’s 25th birthday earlier this week say they have seen CCTV footage of the moment Luke was shot and that he was “over 20 feet away” at the time.
“We’ve all seen the video and there was no lunging with the knife,” said Jeudi Thursday.
“But the way it was portrayed by the media served the police agenda so that it wouldn’t look like an execution style shooting.”
Another local, Chris Pannan, said that he has two teenage sons and that the news really “jolted” him.
“Five shots is just excessive,” he said.
“If they had used another method such as rubber bullets, Luke could have been disarmed and probably put in hospital but lived to tell the tale.”
“We really don’t need a GI Joe style police force.”
Jeudi agreed saying that with better police training the situation could have been very different.
“Non-lethal force training is something we need to respond to better as a society given growing mental health concerns,” she explained.
“I believe the police need to take a look in their own backyard and the mental health of the first responders.
“They shouldn’t still be operating as police officers and this information shouldn’t be hidden and swept under covers.”
Last month, Luke’s family who live in Western Australia, released a petition with over 20,000 signatures from supporters and subsequently an independent enquiry was launched.
His mother, Nicola Gilbert, had her birthday the day before Luke’s, but it will now be forever remembered with despair and anguish, with only the thought of his justice a small compensation for the family’s loss.
Red and white flowers were laid at the site of Luke’s death. Photo credit: Rachael Smith
Jeudi Thursday, Chris Pannan and Heidi Ward attended the vigil to mark what would have been Luke’s Gilbert’s 25th birthday. Photo credit: Rachael Smith.