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Officers were 'sitting ducks' as gunman fired 27 times at their stricken car


Police officers smashed a windscreen to pull a shot colleague out of his rolled vehicle while a gunman continued to fire at them, an inquest has heard.

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But Senior Constable Brett Forte most likely died while being removed from his car due to wounds the 42-year-old sustained at the hands of gunman Ricky Maddison, an inquest into the deaths of both men heard on Monday.

Forte’s vehicle was peppered with 27 bullets when Maddison opened fire with an automatic weapon in the Lockyer Valley, west of Brisbane, on May 29, 2017.

Maddison, 40, was shot dead by police the following day after being asked to surrender more than 80 times during a 20-hour siege.

Forte and Senior Constable Catherine Nielsen were in a vehicle just behind Maddison when he pulled over next to a shut gate on a dirt road, got out of his ute and opened fire on the officers.

The police vehicle reversed up an embankment while coming under fire before rolling, trapping the officers inside.

In footage played before the inquest, a policewoman can be heard calling for help, saying: “We’re sitting ducks.”

Three officers from another car approached their colleagues on foot, while Maddison fired at them, Detective Senior Sergeant Fiona Hinshelwood told the Coroners Court sitting in Toowoomba.

They helped Nielsen out the car, before removing Forte at 2.38pm, 30 minutes after Maddison had stopped his vehicle.

“They obviously took some time to extract him from the vehicle,” Hinshelwood said.

“In fact, officers had to smash the windscreen in order to pull him through the windscreen to exit the vehicle and then move him around out of the line of fire.”

The pursuit had started after Maddison called police from a pay phone at 1.16pm the same day.

He was agitated about an investigation into domestic violence-related offences in which Maddison was accused of pouring fuel over a woman in one incident and brandishing a gun in another.

He had previously been charged over some of the offences, but they had been discontinued two years earlier.

Maddison described himself as a “broken man” who had lost everything during the conversation lasting more than 30 minutes with tactical crime squad team leader Sergeant Peter Jenkins which was recorded and played to the court.

Jenkins asked Maddison to come into the station, or say where he could be found, but Maddison says, “youse know where I am”.

Police had been trying to find him for months, but Maddison had gone “off the grid”, the inquest heard.

Shortly after Maddison abruptly ended the call, police spotted his utility in Toowoomba and began the pursuit.

While numerous vehicles from neighbouring police stations were involved, officers were warned to be careful during any “take-down” because Maddison had been involved in firearm offences.

About 30 witnesses are expected to give evidence during the two-week inquest before State Coroner Terry Ryan.

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