SOLICITORS for one of the police shot on duty last year have denied it was a "flawed" risk assessment before they moved in, with the coroner set to deliver her findings next month.
Sergeant Mark Johnston and Senior Constable Helen McMurtrie were fired upon and struck by bullet fragments in the face and neck as they moved into arrest a man in Glen Innes on the night of January 18, last year.
The shooter who was aged in his 70s and cannot be identified, turned the gun on himself and died at the scene.
Deputy State Coroner Elizabeth Ryan has announced she will hand down her findings into the events of the night next month.
On the fourth and final day of the inquest in Tamworth Coroner's Court, a barrister for one of the police said the court had examined every moment of the incident "with a fine tooth comb" in court over four days "with the benefit of hindsight".
"The officers on this night couldn't do that; they couldn't go back," he told the court.
He said operational policing involves a risk but there was also a "risk of not acting".
He submitted Sergeant Johnston had given evidence that there was "a threat to get his gun", not that they knew he had a gun in his possession, and nothing they did made the man "do what he did" to fire the shots.
OFFICERS DID WHAT THEY COULD
The barrister said the officers should be commended because "it's a day the officers will have to live with for the rest of their lives."
He rejected that Sergeant Johnston had used a "flawed risk assessment" to move in to arrest the man.
"It can't be flawed because he didn't have the information," he said, pointing to the fact his client had not heard the detail that the man was in possession of the gun, and that was crucial to the risk assessment that he had made.
A barrister for the NSW Police Commissioner commented on "the brilliant bravery that was depicted in the body worn video".
She submitted the "critical" and "crucial" evidence from the witnesses about the gun being in the elderly man's possession was evidence "that they didn't hear ... what she has explained in court".
She submitted it was crucial that community members tell police everything when they attend the scenes, regardless if they are not happy with them.
"It was critical information and it might have changed the decision making by the police officers," she submitted.
Solicitors for the family said "this really is a sad case" but there was a need for a "rigorous review of the evidence" so that "inefficiencies can be identified".
He submitted that it was very clear that police had been told the man "had a gun" and that "at the very least it had to trigger a call" to the duty officer.
"It called for an approach that wasn't business as usual," he submitted in closing submissions.
"It should have been recognised as a high risk situation"
He said communication and planning was lacking by police, and "information that police ought have acted on".
"There's clearly sufficient information ... to have known [the man] had a gun in his possession," the solicitor submitted.
He said there was "scope for change" to tweak the high-risk definition used by police.
The inquest heard two statements from the family of the man that died as a result of a self-inflicted gun shot wound at the scene.
"My father is not known in such a good light nowadays," a barrister for two of the family members said, but said he was like a super hero to them when they were young.
They said the "family remember him as a generous man", with a "wicked sense of humour" who "believed in working hard for what you wanted".
"I remember him for all the lessons he taught us," the statement read.
"To keep learning new things and give a hand where you can."
The family members praised the officers involved and said they were "in the highest of hopes" they could recover but were "deeply affected" that the incident had spelled the end of Senior Constable McMurtrie's police career.
The eye witness at the scene - who cannot be identified - said in a written statement read out in the court that the night had "changed my life forever", and she "wakes up everyday and wonders why".
She described the man who "loved life and to the full" and remembers the good times of having a glass of wine, watching a movie and "laughing until our sides hurt".
"I know the [man] I know and love would have never ever wanted this to happen," the statement said.
The nature of the call-out and much of the events of the night cannot be reported for legal reasons.
- Lifeline 13 11 14