FILE PHOTO: A hostage runs towards a police officer outside Lindt cafe, where other hostages are being held, in Martin Place in central Sydney December 15, 2014. REUTERS/Jason Reed/File Photo
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Police responding to a deadly hostage crisis in a Sydney cafe underestimated the gunman's threat and should have stormed the building earlier, rather than waiting to act until the gunman had killed a captive, a coroner said Wednesday after concluding a 2-½ year inquiry.The coroner's findings follow intense criticism from many of the 18 hostages and families of the victims, who have long questioned why police waited nearly 17 hours to enter the Lindt Cafe and end the December 2014 siege. Police moved in only after an erratic Man Monis fatally shot cafe manager Tori Johnson. Monis was then shot dead by police and another hostage, lawyer Katrina Dawson, was killed in the crossfire.Though New South Wales state Coroner Michael Barnes took pains to say that the only person responsible for the deaths was Monis himself, he concluded police made a series of mistakes, most notably by failing to immediately storm the cafe after Monis fired at a group of hostages who fled the building more than 16 hours into the crisis. A psychiatrist called in by police also gave erroneous assessments of the situation inside the cafe and issued ambiguous advice, which contributed to police underestimating the threat Monis posed, Barnes said.
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