(re-printed from "IT'S TIME!: Christians Speaking Out", Issue 91)
Editor: Raymond A. Smyth, PO Box 642, NANGO., QLD. 4615.

On 24th February 2001, Jim (Hank) Hallinan, aged 57, died on a property outside Tumut, NSW. He was killed by a police sniper's bullet to the back of the head.

A warrant had been issued for Hallinan's arrest after he failed to appear in court to answer several minor charges. Some dated back to 1984.

Local police approached Hallinan's hut on the morning of the 23rd. They reportedly first donned bullet-proof vests. They later said he brandished a rifle at them. When Jim died 33 hours later, he was surrounded by an estimated 80 heavily armed police. No indication of alcohol consumption was found.

Not yet explained is the reason why police went to his place at all, for Hallinan, a mildly eccentric character, was known by 'everybody' in Tumut, where he went almost every day to socialise. He had no record of violence. Why was he not quietly arrested there?

Establishment Judges Speak Out.

One of the incredible features of this case is that two former prominent members of the judiciary are speaking very strongly against police actions. One is the former Federal Attorney-General Kep Enderby (previously a Judge of the NSW Supreme Court); the other is former Judge of the Arbitration Court Jim Staples, one-time member of the International Commission of Jurists. Both have properties locally. They deserve the highest acclaim for being prepared to speak out, in the interest of justice, against the establishment in which they played such prominent roles. They deserve medals.

Who was Jim Hallinan?

A cameo of Jim Hallinan and his life is needed to put the day's events into perspective.

Hallinan was a 'well known local character'. (Henry Lawson said that 'well-known local characters' are the local people about whom the least is known.) He lived in a one-roomed galvanised iron hut and a caravan at Adjungbilly, 25 km north- east of Tumut. He had "a bit of a problem mentally," said his sister, Loretta Jamieson, but he harmed no one, and was well- liked in the area. His neighbours spoke well of him. Numerous people called him "a mate."

Mainly for social purposes, Hank visited Tumut almost every day. He did not like the police. An impolite gesture to Inspector Wall led to Jim being arrested. Apparently a check revealed outstanding charges against him, some 17 years old. These were now activated. On 23 Nov, 2000 he was charged with several seemingly heinous crimes; custody of a knife (as have most of the men I know) resisting police, offensive conduct, assaulting police, trespassing and failure to appear.

The case was adjourned to 8th December, when Jim failed to appear. An arrest warrant was issued.

Police Contradictions.

The police media unit's press release on Feb.24 said that at 6.14 p.m. Hank "came out of the house firing shots at police. The man was called upon to drop his weapon, failed to do so, and was shot by police." (Why a head shot rather than disabling him with a low shot?)

Inspector Wayne Hayes, State Commander of Homicide Squad, put it differently. "He told the State Coroner that ... Hank (Jim) had spotted a police officer about to fire an incendiary bomb at his hut. Hank was taking aim at the arsonist. A sniper feared the worst for his colleague and shot him down," wrote Brian Hallinan to Premier Carr.

This appears to be the only claim that Jim aimed his gun at anyone - and the claimant was not present at the shooting.

Jim died outside his home.

Police Cannonade.

At 6.00pm that day, a "diversionary cannonade", including explosives, gas, and incendiary canisters, and rifle-fire, which must have terrified Jim, began. (A risky operation, in terms of a man's life.} Could it not be that a panic stricken Jim fired several times at random in fear?

"An Execution"

"This was an execution", said Mr. Staples. His strong words would seem to be justified by the reported order: "Take out the offender." Jim Staples further wrote, in a letter to his Member of Parliament: "James Hallinan was murdered by a member of the Tactical Operations Unit ... on the unlawful order of a uniformed officer ... I can readily identify the officer who gave the order ... " If a nonenity so wrote, he might well be ignored as a crank. When a former barrister and judge so writes, those in the highest echelons of power should take notice.

Southern Region Police Commander, Eric Gollan, had talked at length to various media. including the 7.30 Report, defending police actions. Later he was 'unable to comment.' "I am not fully aware of the details, I have not spoken to the officers involved," he later told the Wagga Daily Advertiser.

Police prevented numerous people from speaking to Hallinan. Yet, dealing with a man know to dislike police, only police negotiators were used. It seems very likely that that decision cost Jim Hallinan his life. It has not been publicly defended.

To date, many calls for a public enquiry have been ignored by authorities. "Wait for the coroner's report" is the feeble response - but the NSW Coroner cannot legally lay blame, nor recommend further action. The current estimated date for the inquest is about March or April next year.

Many Questions Arise.

Many questions arise from this sad incident. Why did local police approach Jim's place at all instead of arresting him on the street? If, as reported, they donned bullet-proof vests before approaching him, why did they?

Why did police refuse permission for Jim's family and friends to talk to him?

Who gave that fateful order: "Take out the offender"? Was Jim executed to save money?

Why are the authorities so reluctant to agree to public enquiry?


SAEBOW COMMENT: If anyone reading this tragic report sees stark similarities with other cases, with which they're familiar, I can't say that I'm surprised at all. ........ With the republishing of Jim's story on the Internet, am hopeful that Jim's spirit will be set free and that those who loved, and continue to love him, are partially relieved from their ongoing pain and sadness of a valuable life so seemingly squandered. ..