William Arthur George CREWS VA
New South Wales Police Force
Rank: Detective Constable
Graduated Goulburn Academy in 2007
Age: 26 old
Stations: Bathurst, Bankstown
Cause: Accidentally Shot – friendly fire
Event location: Bankstown
Died on: 9 September, 2010
Funeral: 16 September 2010 at St Andrew’s Cathedral, central Sydney
The constable was accidentally shot during the execution of a search warrant in Bankstown on 9 September, 2010. He was posthumously awarded Commissioner’s Valour Award.
At the time of his death the constable was aged 26 years and had joined the New South Wales Police Force in 2007.
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Shot officer awarded posthumous promotion and valour medal
William Crews remembered at funeral
Tributes to William Crews from his brother and the NSW Police Commissioner at his funeral in Sydney.
NSW police officer William Crews, who died during a drug raid a week ago, has been posthumously awarded the Police Commissioner’s Valour Award and promoted to detective.
The 26-year-old trainee detective had been with the force for just three years when he was accidentally shot by a fellow police officer during the operation in Sydney’s southwest on September 9.
He loved his job and gave it everything that he could offer and I believe that this was why he was so successful in his chosen profession. He was a larrikin and loved to laugh but also knew when the job had to be done
About 5000 well-wishers, mostly made up of members of the NSW Police Force and including members of the emergency services, public and political leaders, gathered in and outside of St Andrew’s Cathedral in central Sydney to pay their respects at his funeral.
After graduating from Goulburn Police Academy in 2007, the newly promoted Detective Constable Crews served at Campsie Local Area Command before he was rapidly promoted to the Middle Eastern Organised Crime Squad earlier this year.
It was an extraordinary achievement, NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione said at his funeral today.
“William was not in the NSW Police Force for long, but by anyone’s record, he was on a rapid upward path,” he said.
Positions within the State Crime Command were highly sought after, Mr Scipione added.
“It is a place where our most-skilled detectives want to go,” he said.
“If you get there at all, it’s usually after a long apprenticeship.
“If you get there quickly, it is because you have something that sets you apart.
“And William had that certain something.”
Along with the Valour Award, for “conspicuous merit and exceptional bravery” during the raid at Bankstown, Mr Scipione also posthumously promoted Constable Crews to the rank of detective.
The detective constable’s coffin, draped with the Australian flag and native flowers, was carried into the church by officers including his brother, Constable Ben Crews.
Moments earlier, a pianist played an uplifting version of the pop music ballad He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother.
Ben Crews described his younger brother as a larrikin who loved to laugh, loved his job and motor bikes, camping and farm life.
“He was man of great achievement, a man of integrity, a man of loyalty and a man of honour, a man of ethics and, lastly, a man who never gave up and kept fighting to the end,” Ben Crews said.
“I will never forget you and miss you with all that I have.
“I know you will be looking down upon us today with that smile which touched and enriched the lives of so many, thinking how lucky you were to be loved so much by so many people.
“Rest in peace mate.”
Senior Constable Ben Kemp from Det Const Crews’ home town of Glen Innes, where it is believed he will be buried, told police mourners the fallen officer was a reason for them to keep getting up each day to go to work.
“His legacy is our legacy …” he said.
“He is 15,000 of us …
“He made a difference.”
The Anglican Archbishop of Sydney Dr Peter Jensen said the family had set an example for the community on how to grieve.
They had met with the officer who accidentally shot Det Const Crews to assure him they did not hold him responsible for his death.
“In particular, we want to thank you for showing us how to forgive,” Archbishop Jensen said.
“Like it or not, some people in your position may have responded with anger and even cries for vengeance.”
After the service, police officers formed a guard of honour down George Street.
The funeral procession included mounted police, a police band and colleagues from Campsie Local Area Command and the Middle East Crime Squad.
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A courageous larrikin who gave his life
- by: James Madden
- From: The Australian
- September 17, 2010 12:00AM
TO his brother he was Bill; to his uni mates he was Will; to his police colleagues he was Crewsy.
To the thousands of strangers who yesterday attended the funeral of the slain constable despite never having met him, William Arthur George Crews was a hero who represented everything that is good about the force.
More than 5000 people, including 2300 uniformed police officers, looked on at Sydney’s St Andrew’s Cathedral as Constable Crews was remembered as a loyal and honest man who died just as he was beginning to realise his potential.
The 26-year-old trainee detective was accidentally shot dead by fellow police officer Dave Roberts during a drug raid in Sydney last week.
Sergeant Roberts was among the mourners yesterday, having been publicly reassured by the Crews family earlier this week that he was not to blame for the tragedy.
NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione described Constable Crews as a brave young officer whose career was on “a rapid, upward path”.
“William Crews didn’t lose his life on the 9th of September; he gave his life,” Mr Scipione said. “And he gave it in the very way that he lived — in the service of others.”
Constable Crews had only recently been deployed to the Middle Eastern Organised Crime Squad, which was a reflection of his abilities, the Police Commissioner said.
“If you get there at all, it’s usually after a long apprenticeship,” Mr Scipione said. “If you get there quickly, it is because you have something that sets you apart. And William had that certain something.”
Mr Scipione said Constable Crews, who grew up in Glen Innes in northern NSW, would be honoured with a posthumous designation of detective constable. He also posthumously received the Commissioner’s Valour Award for “exceptional courage” shown during the fatal drug raid.
Constable Crews’s older brother, Ben, who is also a policeman, said his younger sibling was a “larrikin” who always looked out for others.
“He was man of great achievement, a man of integrity, a man of loyalty and a man of honour, a man of ethics and, lastly, a man who never gave up and kept fighting to the end,” Constable Ben Crews said. “I know you will be looking down upon us today with that smile which touched and enriched the lives of so many, thinking how lucky you were to be loved so much by so many people.
“Rest in peace, mate.”
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Detective William Arthur George Crews
Archbishop Peter Jensen
Tribute to Constable William Crews
|About this Item|
|Speakers||Stewart Mr Tony|
|Business||Private Members Statements, PRIV|
Mr TONY STEWART (Bankstown—Parliamentary Secretary) [1.46 p.m.]: Yesterday I travelled to Glen Innes where I attended the funeral of Detective Constable William Arthur George Crews, known by his family, his friends and the police community as Bill or Crewsy. Also in attendance at the funeral were the Premier of New South Wales, Kristina Keneally; the Minister for Police, Michael Daley; the Speaker of the House, Richard Torbay; the New South Wales Commissioner of Police; police commissioners from other States; high-ranking police officers throughout New South Wales; and more than 500 general duties police officers. Also present were family, friends and community members; people lined the street. It is tragic to attend the funeral of a person who has passed away at 26 years of age. It is even more tragic when the courageous person—a member of our New South Wales Police Force from my electorate of Bankstown—was killed in action. The Bankstown community is really hurting. I have received many condolences, more than 1,000 at this stage, from friends and constituents of Bankstown who want to say one simple thing to the family: Sorry.
Yesterday the funeral was presided over by Reverend Chris Brennan, Vicar of the Holy Trinity Anglican Church, Glen Innes; Reverend Alex Thomas, Police Chaplain of Bankstown Local Area Command; and Reverend Alan Lowe, Senior State Police Chaplain. It was a beautiful service. In addition, friends of Bill Crews gave a wonderful rendition of aspects of his life, and the opportunities that he afforded to them and to others in the Glen Innes community. It was one big family coming together to celebrate this great man’s life. At 26 years of age this man had lived three lives in terms of his contributions and achievements. This funeral and the State funeral, which was held last week at St Andrew’s Cathedral in Sydney, have had a profound impact on me and my understanding of the Police Force.
Last Thursday, following the State funeral, more than 400 police came to Bankstown to attend the wake, which was held with minimal notice at Bankstown Sports Club. I pay tribute to Bankstown Sports Club for providing the facilities, services, food and beverages. It was an opportunity to bring the brothers and sisters of the New South Wales Police Force together as a family to recognise not only the achievements of Constable Bill Crews, posthumously Detective Constable Bill Crews, but also the work of our police officers. I will read to the House a poem recited by Constable Kemp at last week’s funeral. It is important for us as members of Parliament to note the words. The poem reads:
Stay strong brother.Nothing we say can change what’s happened.
Your brother, our brother, died for what’s right.
He gave his all for what we believe in. He did what you would do.
He is the reason why we get up each and every day and go to work to keep our streets as safe as we can.
He is you. You are him. We are him. He gives us hope.
He is the reason why we will continue to get up and go to work.
Stay strong brother.He is gone but we will always remember his courage and strength in the face of grave danger.
You will survive and grow stronger, we will grow stronger with you.
Stay strong brother.The ultimate sacrifice was paid by one of New South Wales’ finest.
He lays peaceful, knowing he has done all for our cause, his cause.
Stay strong brother.His legacy is our legacy. He is us. 15000 of us.
We will continue to stand and fight, fight with all our heart for what we believe is right.
To protect our families, to protect the weak, to protect the helpless, to protect our way of life as Australians.
He did not leave us in vain, none of us will.
Stay strong brother.Fight or flight is a word we learn early on.
And fight your brother did, and to that end he makes us all proud, because that is what is expected of a New South Wales police officer, and that, my brother, is what he delivered.
Stay strong brother.Not many people live in your world, his world, our world.
Our society takes for granted what he did for us, what you do for us, what we do for them.
It is an unforgiving, terrible, gutless world sometimes, most times.
But every now and then someone makes a difference, he made a difference—a big difference.
Stay strong brother.
He is their hero, our hero, my hero.
He is Will Crews. May he rest in peace.
STAY STRONG BROTHER
Those words commemorate a great man.
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Prosecutors to appeal seven year sentence given to Philip Nguyen’s who was responsible for the death of William Crews
- The Daily Telegraph
- March 28, 2013 9:54AM
PROSECUTORS will appeal the seven year sentence given to Philip Nguyen, the man responsible for the death of trainee detective William Crews. NSW Attorney General Greg Smith released a statement this morning saying he has been informed by the DPP Lloyd Babb SC that they “have decided to appeal against the sentence handed down to Philip Nguyen.”
The 57-year-old was sentenced to at least seven years behind bars, but with time already in custody he will be eligible for release in September 2017.
He pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of Constable Crews, who was killed from a bullet to the neck while on a raid of a Bankstown garage in September 2010.
The gunshot which killed the promising 26-year-old officer came from his colleague’s gun, but the court found Nguyen had been responsible for the death by starting a shoot-out with police.
In sentencing him to a maximum of nine years and six months in prison, Justice Elizabeth Fullerton said “although he didn’t fire the shot which killed him, he caused his death.”
Mr Smith and Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione said on the day of Nguyen’s sentence earlier this month they hoped the DPP would appeal.
Constable Crews’ father Kel said outside the courtroom following the sentence “it doesn’t seem to us to be appropriate for our family, for the police and for the community.”
“He has given his life in the line of duty, we have been sentenced to life- the sentence that has been given down has been nothing to what we have been sentenced to,” Mr Crews said.
The matter will be mentioned in the Court of Criminal Appeal later this year.
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First interview: Policeman who shot Constable Bill Crews talks about the pain of the dark day that claimed his mate’s life
- News Limited Network
- August 11, 2013
THE incident lasted just 2.8 seconds – from the time police shouted “search warrant” to the last of five bullets being fired. For three years Detective Senior Constable Dave Roberts, 42, has been struggling to understand how a routine warrant ended with his mate killed from a bullet he fired.”For a long time I couldn’t think clearly about the matter,” Roberts said.
In 2010, his team from the Middle Eastern Organised Crime Squad were in the carpark of a Bankstown unit block to search drug supplier Philip Nguyen, 55.
It was considered so low-risk that detectives walked into the garage without guns drawn.
Constable Crews, 26, had just joined the squad as a highly recommended recruit. He was carrying a folder under his arm.
Extensive intelligence checks would tell police Nguyen was not armed.
Then they spotted him.
Roberts remembers an incredibly cramped space, Nguyen walking quickly out of his garage, the muzzle of his gun flashing as it fired, and Crews promptly returning fire three times.
“I’ve dropped what I was holding, drew my gun and fired once,” he said. “All that took less than three seconds.”
His words slow as he recalls regrouping with his colleagues behind a brick wall when the shooting stopped. They realised Bill was missing.
“We were looking down the garage … we saw Bill lying motionless.”
He exhales deeply before continuing.
“I was expecting to see Nguyen on the ground as well. I was hoping like crazy my round had struck him.
“About 10 seconds after it dawned on me that my round may have struck Bill.” Roberts’ world fell apart after that night – his colleagues’ too. The commanding officer who approved the warrant later quit the force and to this day blames himself for the whole incident.
Another detective who saw the tragedy unfold self-medicates with alcohol and medication. He is a mess.
Roberts suffered the most. He has held his silence since but agreed to share his story in the hope it might assist others suffering extreme trauma.
His path has been a lonely one. It is the only friendly fire case in NSW Police Force history where a policeman has died in the line of duty.
After the incident he was taken to hospital and treated for injuries caused during a grief-stricken rage. His knuckles still bear the scars from that night as he tried to punch holes through brick walls inside the garage.
He woke to discover Nguyen was in custody and uninjured, ending any hope his bullet struck its intended target.
A carload of senior police would arrive on his doorstep later that evening to break the news his bullet struck Crews.
“That was one of the worst days of my life.”
At his lowest point Roberts was gambling heavily and dependent on Xanax to regulate his moods. He also began experiencing debilitating panic attacks. He had previously never gone near a poker machine now he was addicted. His marriage of 18 years nearly collapsed.
“I lost thousands over a 12-month period. Initially I played low amounts _ $10 at a time _ but on occasions I would put in $500. It was an escape … a very expensive way to numb the mind.”
With the help of sessions at a post-traumatic stress clinic he managed to walk away from gambling in April last year but there would be other struggles.
Crews’ desk had been left untouched when he returned to work a month after the incident. Little reminders of him were everywhere. They exchanged two emails just before heading off that night.
“I’ve only just deleted them,” Roberts said. “I kept them for two years.
“When I hit send on those emails everything was good. Bill was still alive. They’re a painful reminder.” Compounding his grief were reports suggesting the search was “botched”, implying he was clumsy or ill-prepared.
“It hits hard,” he said. “I knew the word `botched’ wasn’t a nice word. I looked it up and the definition is everything I’m not.”
Nguyen’s solicitor would later assert in court that Roberts, a stickler for safety precaution, was the only officer wearing a ballistic vest that night. Incorrect. Another detective, Tom Howes, was wearing body armour – and for good reason. Howes was with Roberts the night of December 27, 2007, when a Comanchero bikie pointed a gun in their direction during a traffic stop, prompting two shots to be fired.
Both officers, ever since, insist on body armour.
Until just a few months ago, Roberts said he could not forgive himself. Nagging questions were dogging his mind. What if he had aimed better? What if the bullet had been two centimetres to the right? What if the gun was angled higher?
He would return to the Bankstown garage several months after the shooting with two police colleagues – one a tactical weapons expert, the other a detective – to reconstruct the incident and seek their impartial advice.
Statistically it was impossible to replicate the circumstances of the shooting. The whole thing was a tragic, freakish one-in-a-million, they said.
“I beat myself up for a long time over this,” Roberts said, citing family, close friends, police colleagues and the police chaplain, Frank, as those who brought him back from his living hell. “I don’t `what if’ so much anymore. I don’t blame myself anymore.”
Nguyen has been sentenced to seven years jail over the death of Crews that night. Prosecutors have appealed, saying the punishment was “manifestly inadequate”.
Roberts is still in the force, but in a different command. He has several important reasons for staying – he wants to set a positive example for people and show life can go on after even the worst tragedies. The job, he says, is an extremely noble profession. But a major factor that is close to his heart is Crews’ mother. “I made a promise to Sharon … She said if we left the cops it would compound her grief.”
On September 8, the anniversary of Crews’ death, Roberts will visit the memorial. Every year he goes by himself, looks at Crews’ name, and remembers that night and his colleague in private.
“There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about what happened and not a day goes by where I don’t think about Bill. And there hasn’t been for the past three years.
“I think about Bill only being a young man and he had everything ahead of him.
“I know he was well-loved by his family, by his friends.
“I know there isn’t a day that goes by (that) they wouldn’t miss him either.”
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Officer’s death hits local police hard
By BRENDAN ARROW
POLICE in the Chifley Local Area Command have been personally affected by the death of trainee detective William Crews.
The 26-year-old died in a Sydney hospital after he was shot while carrying out a drug operation on Wednesday night with seven other officers from the Middle Eastern Organised Crime Squad in Bankstown, in Sydney’s south-west.
The officers were fired upon outside the targeted property in Cairds Avenue about 9pm. Constable Crews was hit in the head and neck.
Philip Nguyen, 55, has since been charged with shooting with intent to murder and discharging a firearm with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.
Geehad Ghazi, 27, has been charged with possession of an unauthorised firearm.
Yesterday, Acting Inspector Lionel White said the tragic situation in Sydney had personally impacted on a number of officers who knew Constable Crews.
“It is a very shocking situation, a couple of the officers here at the Bathurst Police Station knew him and have been left very upset by the situation,” he said.
“Some of the officers worked with him and trained with him before he became a detective.
“For those officers, we are offering them support and counselling during this tough time.”
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Reminding people of those officers who lost their lives in the Bathurst area in the line of duty is a memorial board naming the 13 policemen who have died in the line of duty.
Since Trooper Robert Lovell McDougall died in 1853 near Sofala, 12 officers have fallen in the line of duty in Bathurst area with Sergeant Paul Mitchell Quinn the last, on the March 30, 1986.
Acting Inspector White said the latest death in Sydney brought to the forefront the difficult circumstances that police can find themselves in daily.
“On top of the very mundane things we do every day this is a stark reminder of the dangers police officers can face while in the front line,” he said. “This very much reminded us of the risk officers sometimes have to take while in the line of duty.
“It is a great tragedy.”
Bill Crews inquest: Errors in planning, execution of drug raid contributed to police officer’s death
An inquest into the shooting death of a Sydney police officer in a botched drugs raid five years ago has found errors in the planning and execution of a search warrant, stemming from “inadequate training” and “ineffective supervision”.
Constable William ‘Bill’ Crews was unintentionally shot by a colleague in returning fire from a drug dealer, in the underground car park of an apartment block at Bankstown in Sydney’s south west in September 2010.
He later died in hospital.
In handing down his findings, New South Wales Coroner Michael Barnes said Crews was killed as a result of “cascading, compounding errors“.
“Sadly, it seems likely that had these errors not occurred Bill Crews may not have died,” Mr Barnes said.
Outside the Glebe Coroners Court, Crew’s father Kelvin Crews said he was emotional.
“Our family has tragically been affected for the rest of our lives,” he said.
“It’s a tragic incident that’s occurred and we never want it to happen again.”
Young and ‘relatively junior’
Crews was “a good bloke and a good cop” committed to learning his new role as a detective in the Middle Eastern Organised Crime Squad.
On September 8, 2010, the 26-year-old was one of several “relatively junior detectives”, who thought they were attending a routine search after being tipped off about a man dealing cocaine and heroin from a garage to Middle Eastern crime families, including the Hamze and Kalache families.
None of them had advanced weapons training and none were prepared for what unfolded, according to the coroner.
When the group, led by Crews, entered the basement, they headed towards the wrong garage.
Affected by drugs and with little English, 58-year-old Philip Nguyen fired on the seven undercover officers who were not displaying identification, thinking they were robbers.
Detective Senior Constable Dave Roberts returned fired whilst trying to get cover.
The coroner said Detective Senior Constable Roberts did not know exactly where Crews was at the time and his movement meant he could not control where his gun was pointing when it fired.
This is contrary to police procedures and training.
Risk assessment ‘critically compromised’
Police expected a drug deal would occur at Nguyen’s garage that night involving Middle Eastern crime families; however, the operation was deemed low-risk.
The NSW coroner was highly critical of the risk assessment and its approval by more senior ranking officers.
The court heard Detective Inspector Michael Ryan sought to downplay the risks by suggesting Nguyen, an Asian male, was less likely to possess weapons or attack police because “Asians tend to be businessmen”.
Inspector Ryan also asserted the Kalache family was “a spent force”.
Mr Barnes said the risk assessment was also informed by inadequate intelligence gathering and reconnaissance, which could have prevented the officers attending the wrong garage that night.
“To merely drive by the premises and stop outside briefly when two inhabitants of the unit block were able to facilitate access was unwise and unnecessarily scant,” Mr Barnes said.
The coroner noted NSW Police had made improvements in the way risk assessments were now conducted and in training and oversight.
Whilst body armour would not have saved Crews, the coroner also noted NSW Police was planning to introduce soft body armour vests that would clearly identify the wearer as a police officer.
“I am satisfied NSW Police has rigorously engaged with each of the inadequacies highlighted by the circumstances in which Detective Bill Crews died,” Mr Barnes said.
Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione has refused to say if he would consider disciplinary action against the officers involved, saying he would need to first read the coroner’s report.