Hundreds mourn teenager shot by police
Published 6:06p.m. 18th December 2008
| By Katie Bradford and Greg Roberts
Updated 6:36p.m. 18th December 2008
The mother of police shooting victim Tyler Cassidy kissed his coffin and mouthed a final "I love you" to her son as teenage mourners expressed anger and disbelief over his death.
More than 400 mourners packed St John the Baptist Catholic Church on Thursday to celebrate the life of the 15-year-old, who was shot dead by three police officers in a skate park in Melbourne last week.
Security guards ensured only family and friends entered the church to say goodbye to Tyler whose body lay in an open casket. It was closed as the service began.
Tyler's Uncle Bruce gave one of three eulogies, telling mourners to "brush away the rubbish" about Tyler that had been spread since his death.
"The truth will come out," he said. "Hold tight your memories of Tyler."
Tyler's own MySpace website had revealed he was a member of a nationalist anti-immigration group, Southern Cross Soldiers, while associates have told the media he had violent tendencies.
His uncle suggested Tyler had not recovered from the death of his father Ian, whose funeral was held in the same church two years ago.
"The grief of losing his dad, perhaps he never recovered from," he said.
Outside the Clifton Hill church, one family member said Tyler had been on anti-depressants and had not taken his medication in the days leading up to his death.
Tyler was a "typical teenager", the man who did not want to be named told AAP, but any directions from his mother would "go in one ear and out the other".
At least half the mourners were visibly distressed teenagers, all carrying single white roses as requested by the family. Most were dressed in black.
As the funeral ended, Tyler's white coffin was carried down the steps by six pallbearers, including his brother Blake, 19.
A young cousin, wearing a purple dress and carrying a bouquet of white flowers, led the procession to the waiting hearse.
Tyler's mother, Shani Cassidy, wearing a black dress and carrying a red rose, mouthed "I love you" to her youngest son's coffin.
Sobbing, she then placed her head on the coffin and kissed it.
Family members and close friends released white balloons as a final goodbye.
As the hearse slowly pulled away, the young cousin was hugged by her father, looking on forlornly and waving a goodbye.
Friend Matthew Lincoln said Tyler's death would lead to more problems between police and local youths.
"Yeah I reckon it will, they just going to pick on more kids now," he told reporters after the funeral.
An old classmate said he and his friends were angry.
"We should not be here today, they shouldn't have done it," Josh McGavisk said.
"We are sad and angry because of what they did. He didn't deserve it. They could've done something else."
Seeing a young mate in a coffin was a heart-wrenching experience, Josh told reporters.
"It's pretty sad, horrible, shouldn't be in there, should be out with his mates today, all this week out with his mates. He shouldn't be dead as he is now. Can't believe it, to lose someone this young."
Josh said Tyler was a "good bloke" who never really got into trouble and was well respected.
A police presence was not visible, but security guards confirmed police were "keeping an eye on things".
Tyler was shot and killed by three of four police officers he had allegedly threatened to kill with two knives in the park in Northcote in Melbourne's north.
A coronial investigation has been launched.