Name: Courtney Jayde Topic
Died: February 10, 2015
Age at death: 22
Cause of death: Police shooting
Location: Sydney, Australia
Courtney Topic was 22 years old. She worked as a teacher’s aide. Her mother says she was “a loving, caring, honest, genuine, gentle soul” who was “beautiful, intelligent, sweet, quirky, creative, [and] quick-witted”.
Someone reported Courtney walking around with a kitchen knife. She was described as “zombie-like” by an observer, talking out loud to no one in particular. Cell phone video of the incident shows Courtney as non-hostile in all respects other than holding the large knife; she was also holding a soda and sipping on it.
Police arrived, lights flashing and sirens blaring, yelling at Courtney to drop the knife. Courtney did not respond to their commands. She managed to say, “Leave me alone,” but quickly became more and more overwhelmed.
Police used a Taser and pepper spray on Courtney. The Taser misfired; the pepper spray hit. Disoriented, she dropped her cup and stumbled away, in the direction of the road and toward a policeman with his gun raised. The man fired a single shot into her chest.
She died at the scene, only 41 seconds after police first arrived.
A witness noted, “There were four or five officers basically running towards her and she was trying to run away and the copper just shot her in the stomach. She was surrounded by all four corners so the only way out was to run towards a cop anyway, it would have been a hard situation.”
Courtney’s mother believes she might have been having a first episode of schizophrenia at the time, impairing her ability to react to her surroundings even more than her autism alone would have.
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