A CORONER has commended the bravery of two officers who were shot in the face and neck during a police operation when they went to arrest a man who ultimately died at the scene.
On the fourth day of the inquest in Tamworth Coroner's Court, Deputy State Coroner Elizabeth Ryan apologised to the family of the man, aged in his 70s, that died in the "dreadful" late-night events on January 18, 2019, in Glen Innes.
She acknowledged it was a huge loss because they "had a real life with him" and "know that you have to live with the consequences of that terrible night".
"I'm very sorry you've lost [him] in this dreadful way," she said.
Ms Ryan said she hoped that "in time" Sergeant Mark Johnston and Senior Constable Helen McMurtrie - who were shot in the face and neck on the night - as well as Probationary Constable Samantha Petty, "can deal with the events" and "put it behind them".
She acknowledged the "courage, bravery and support they gave each other" after the shooting.
The inquest heard from the three officers on the night, witnesses at the scene, as well as specialist police about processes and the events.
Much of the evidence given by eyewitnesses, as well as the police evidence on their protocol, cannot be reported for legal reasons, as well as the nature of the call out and the family involved.
On Thursday, the inquest heard the elderly man had a 30-30 long-arm rifle which was a high-powered weapon with a scope.
The court heard when the officers approached the man at the property, "there was no cover at all", but "they were at a tactical disadvantage for most of that operation".
Counsel assisting the coroner acknowledged two witnesses at the scene "were alcohol affected" but "plainly traumatised" by the events before police had arrived.
"It made them difficult to extract clear information from," he said.
He said the officers "found inconsistencies in the information provided" to them and would have concluded the witnesses "were unreliable".
The court heard the autopsy conducted on the man showed he was "affected by alcohol" on the night and "his judgement would have been impaired", and "would have reduced" his ability to act rationally.
The court heard an informal risk assessment about the events, before police moved in on the property, was "flawed" because "there was some contradiction" in the information provided to police.
"Unfortunately he didn't hear the bit of critical information," counsel assisting said, and acknowledged the scene was next to a roadway where trucks and cars would have been passing.
"His risk assessment was flawed ... on the critical piece of information."
He said the officers should have stopped and "had a discussion about what happen next" before proceeding into the property.
The court heard the high-powered weapon would still have penetrated a car door or window, but the police car - Glen Innes 20 - was only equipped with two bullet proof vests which wasn't enough for three officers.
The court also heard Probationary Constable Petty was the only one with a working police radio to call "urgent" that night, after an earlier radio failed at the scene.
Counsel assisting said in closing submissions that the incident should have been declared a "high-risk situation" which then would have triggered a call to a duty officer in Armidale to determine the next moves; and whether tactical police or negotiators or other police would have been deployed to the scene.
"There should have been a call; there should have been a discussion with the duty officer," he said.
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