In April 2012 a man was shot dead by police on a remote farm in New South Wales called the School of Happiness. The victim, who was high on a cocktail of drugs and who suffered from mental illness, had been threatening attendees of a hippie festival with a crossbow and hunting knife. When the police finally arrived, they tried to subdue him but, ultimately, fatal shots were fired.
In Wild Man Alecia Simmonds follows the coronial inquest into the police killing. She reveals what really happened that night and unravels the web of issues entangled in this fascinating, bizarre and, undoubtedly, tragic case: a cultural clash between hippies and hunters; drug use, violence, masculinity and psychosis. She asks how family members, as well as police, came to work on the frontline of mental health.