ONE of the officers shot in the neck during a police operation in Glen Innes has told a court she didn't know the suspect had a firearm when she first went to the house.
On the opening day of a coronial inquest in Tamworth Coroner's Court into the man's death last year, Senior Constable Helen McMurtrie took the stand to detail the events leading up to the shooting.
Ms McMurtrie - who has since retired from the police force - was working with Probationary Constable Samantha Petty and Sergeant Mark Johnston, who were part of Glen Innes 20 and deployed about 9.55pm on January 18, 2019.
The court heard the initial CAD - or police system - call-out message said there was no weapons.
"There is no mention in that initial report ... it specifically said he didn't have a firearm," Ms McMurtrie told the inquest.
"That's the initial report."
The inquest is mandatory because the man, who cannot be named, was aged in his 70s, and died during the course of a police operation.
On the first day, Deputy State Coroner Magistrate Elizabeth Ryan refused to put a suppression order on the entire proceedings.
But the identity of the informant, the suspect in the initial call-out as well as the family and a witness cannot be identified for legal reasons.
Counsel assisting the coroner did not support a blanket non-publication order and said "normal principles of open justice" were needed.
Ms Ryan said that she had not heard "any compelling argument" as to why the case should be suppressed and declined "to make that order" on Monday.
The nature of the call-out, as well as several items in evidence, including the contents of body worn video of police cannot be reported, by order of the coroner.
The court heard the property had 13 guns registered to location because the owners were "avid hunters", the counsel assisting said in his opening address.
The court was told the timeline of the night of the shooting, including the ambulance that had been dispatched to the scene in the middle of Glen Innes, along with the police.
Ms McMurtrie detailed how police weren't told the suspect had a gun and there was conflicting reports at the scene from an informant and a witness.
"There was just that contradiction ... and confusion constantly," she told the court, detailing the uncertainty
"I was just gathering all the information."
She said "I didn't know these people", and was working to try and establish what had happened that night.
Ms McMurtire said she "approached the house believing there was weapons there" but "I did not approach the house believing that he had one in his possession".
She detailed to the court why she took the lead on the case, and became the officer-in-charge before the shooting.
The court heard a Winchester 3030 firearm was discharged at 10.51pm on the night in question and the shot ricocheted from the gravel "to strike Sergeant Johnston" in the face, and senior Constable McMurtrie in the neck.
On the police evidence, less than 20 seconds later a second shot was fired before then Probationary-Constable Petty radioed police about two shots being fired.
A critical incident was declared after the man's body was discovered at the property.
The inquest is examining the police response; the actions of officers on scene; the risk assessments on the night; and the information provided to them. It'll also examine whether the incident was a high-risk situation which could have led to extra police including negotiators being deployed to the scene.
The officer that led the critical incident into the shooting - Detective Sergeant Jason Ronczka - was the first witness and told the court he was not aware of any trained negotiators in the local area. Instead, there was two each stationed in Tamworth and Inverell.
He told the court a police negotiator never made it to the scene because he was in a highway patrol car en route from Tamworth but the car collided with a kangaroo before it got to Armidale.
"The police officers inside suffered some minor injuries," the detective said, adding the car was "inoperable" and unable to be driven after the crash.
The inquest, which is slated to run for four days, continues on Tuesday.
- Lifeline 13 11 14