ABC: Western Sydney police shooting victim Bradley Balzan’s family calls for royal commission into policing

The family of an apprentice tradesman killed by a senior constable in Western Sydney has called for a royal commission into policing in New South Wales.

Key points:

  • Police say Bradley Balzan grabbed a gun from a plain-clothed officer before being shot
  • His grandmother said he had been walking to the shops when four officers approached him in an unmarked car
  • Bradley’s father was told to stay inside while his son died in their backyard

Bradley Balzan, 20, was walking to the shops at St Marys when four plain-clothed officers pulled up next to him in an unmarked car two days ago.

His grandmother Nola Balzan said one of the undercover officers asked, “What are you doing?” but failed to disclose he was with the police force.

“He ignored them, which, if you didn’t know a person, you would ignore them — then they kept following him and he said something like ‘I am sick of this, f-off’ and he ran because he was scared,” she said.

Assistant Commissioner Mark Jones said on Wednesday he was acting “suspiciously” but would not elaborate on his behaviour.

With four officers chasing after him, Bradley Balzan sprinted only a few hundred metres home and into his backyard on Acacia Street.

Nola Balzan said she believes he grabbed a shovel to defend himself before his pet dog bit one of the officers, sending him to hospital with minor injuries.

Police claim Bradley Balzan snatched the gun from one of two senior constables and fired “at least one shot” before one of them fired the deadly shot.

“Bradley has no criminal record — I think it was police brutality because everything that happened to him was terrifying,” Nola Balzan said.

Bradley Balzan was treated by paramedics but died shortly after going into cardiac arrest while his father, Adam, was told to stay inside.

“Even at that stage, the officers hadn’t identified themselves as police,” Nola Balzan said.

“Adam said, ‘Is that my son?’ and they said, ‘We don’t know’ — Bradley doesn’t drive so he doesn’t have a licence with photo ID.”

“They ended up taking a photo and showing him, and it was Bradley’s face with blood all over it so that’s how he knew it was his son, which is absolutely crazy … it was traumatising.”

Adam Balzan hasn’t been able to return home since the tragedy on his backdoor step but told the ABC “police must be held accountable for their actions”.

Nola Balzan said her son was “devastated”.

“They have only one child and now they have none,” she said.

“[Bradley] was handsome, he was cheeky, he made us laugh, he loved his family, he loved his pets, his friends and mountain biking.”

An internal police investigation which will be carried out by homicide detectives promises to scrutinise the actions of the two senior constables before the findings are independently reviewed.

But Nola Balzan is calling for a royal commission style of inquiry into the state’s police force following the shooting.

“Think before you shoot. There’s pepper spray, which was used on Bradley, there’s tasers that they are allowed to use which would have been a deterrent,” she said.

“Shooting someone in the stomach is not shooting to stop, that’s shooting to kill,” she said.

Nola Balzan said Christmas used to be the one time of the year she looked forward to and when all eight of her grandchildren would come together under one roof.

“Christmas is now dead to us — I have cancelled our lunch, it doesn’t feel right with Bradley not here — I don’t know how we are going to come back from this,” she said.

“A good deal of people are going to be missing him.”

Bradley Balzan was only a year into his apprenticeship as a tradesman and had recently started taking a course to become a barman.

His family is now hoping for answers in the new year.

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