After a brief discussion, the officer attempted to arrest Micetic. A scuffle ensued and as the handcuffs were being placed around Micetic’s wrists, Baker fired three shots from his police-issued firearm.
Micetic died shortly after arriving at The Alfred hospital. His cause of death was a gunshot wound to the chest.
Baker was charged with murder in 2015 and later faced a Supreme Court trial, where prosecutors alleged he planted the knife at the scene after fatally shooting Micetic.
Baker was acquitted of murder in 2017. He has since resigned from the force, but has always maintained he acted in self-defense.
On Tuesday, Jamieson said he was unable to find exactly how the knife got to the scene, but ruled there was no evidence to suggest Micetic had drawn the weapon before he was shot.
He also discovered that Baker’s first reaction was not to use the minimum force available to him.
“I am … unable to reach a definitive conclusion that Police Chief Baker shot Vlado to prevent an imminent attack,” Jamieson said.
The coroner also criticized the fact that Victoria Police did not keep up with the physical and mental health of its officers.
At the time of the shooting, Baker had a documented history of mental health problems and later told police that he had been taking six different types of prescription drugs, including antipsychotics and anxiety pills.
During the inquest, the coroner heard that Baker had been referred for a psychological assessment by Victoria Police on three occasions prior to the shooting, in November 2008, April 2009 and May 2012.
Jamieson said it was “alarming” that the evidence available to her during her investigation was not sufficient to make a conclusion about Baker’s fitness to work at the time. She recommended that Victoria Police implement changes to ensure that management is adequately informed about the suitability of her staff for the job.
She said the mental and physical health of an officer was in the public interest and if management were unaware of the well-being of their staff, it was a risk to the health and safety of the public.
Outside court, Micetic family lawyer Jeremy King said they had endured a long and grueling nine years, calling it “extremely significant” that the coroner found Micetic’s death preventable.
“They hope it won’t take another three years for Victoria Police to implement policies regarding monitoring the physical and mental health of their officers,” King said.
“They want to make sure that no police officer is ever ‘outmatched’ again and that those days are behind us, so everyone can be safe on the streets.”
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