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‘Egotistic’ police allowed our families to be sacrificed, Bourke St widow tells inquest

Junpei Kanno, whose younger brother Yosuke Kanno was killed that day, said his family had been “abandoned” by Australia – a country they now see as being “generous to criminals but cold-hearted to their victims”.

“I see Australia as a country where you are murdered just because you happen to be walking on the streets while the killer is guaranteed a cooked meal,” he said in a statement read to the inquest.

Bourke Street victim Yosuke Kanno.

Bourke Street victim Yosuke Kanno.

He said senior police had failed to acknowledge their own faults, instead shifting the blame onto rank-and-file officers.

Ms Tan said that even with hindsight, many police couldn’t say how they would have done things differently to stop the murderous driver.

“In other words, our families had to be sacrificed,” she said.

“If this is the best Victoria Police has to offer, then we are better off protecting ourselves.”

Matthew Si, with daughter Aria and wife Melinda Tan.

Matthew Si, with daughter Aria and wife Melinda Tan.

Ms Tan accused certain officers of being more concerned with protecting their careers than the public that day.

“There are, however, officers in Victoria Police who remain egotistic and not willing to admit to their mistakes. You cannot effect change with that attitude,” she said.

“You should not wear a badge or carry the title if you’re not willing to risk yourself for the safety of the public.”

Ms Tan added: “Our young daughter Aria asked me the other day, why did Papa have to die? I will leave that for Victoria Police to answer.”

She blamed complacency for what happened and said “the whole plan hinged” on Detective Senior Constable Murray Gentner pleading with Gargasoulas via phone and text messages to surrender as he drove around the city.

Mr Si’s father, Kheng Si, struggled to understand the events leading to that day and how Gargasoulas was on bail, despite multiple prior breaches, and then eluded law enforcers as he continue to offend.

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He said it was “unbelievable” all the resources of the police force could not subdue him.

“Over the last three years it has been very difficult for me to understand, let alone accept, one single offender possibly only armed with a knife … was able to challenge a contingent of law enforcement officers and win,” he said.

“I have the impression that on January 20, 2017, the different police units were fragmented, there was no overall leader and there was reluctance for teamwork among the various units.

“There seems to be no accountability. There was acknowledgement of victims’ pain, agony and sufferings but no formal apology.”

Three-month-old Zachary Bryant, 10-year-old Thalia Hakin, Jess Mudie, 22, and Bhavita Patel, 33, were also killed in the rampage.

Matthew Bryant shed tears as he spoke of his son Zachary, who died after Gargasoulas hit the infant’s pram with his stolen Holden Commodore.

“I hate knowing my son’s death had to be the catalyst for change,” he said.

Coroner Jacqui Hawkins adjourned the inquest until May 25 and extended condolences to affected family members, urging them to take care of themselves.

“This trauma may resurface in a different way now the inquest has concluded,” she said.

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