Police officer recounts crazed gunman’s dramatic final stand
The SERT officer who shot Ricky Maddison has told how he had "no other option" but to fire when the paranoid gunman broke cover and ran towards them with an automatic weapon after firing at his colleagues.
The operative - who was identified only by a code name - has given evidence at the inquest into the murder of Senior Constable Brett Forte and the death of gunman Ricky Maddison.
He told the court he was part of a team that arrived early in the morning of May 30, 2017, to relieve a crew that had held Maddison at bay throughout the night.
The operative said he was hidden in bushland at the rear of the "stronghold" where Maddison had kept police at bay with an automatic weapon for some hours.
Sen Const Forte was killed on May 29, 2017, by known criminal Ricky Maddison, following a low-speed pursuit at Seventeen Mile in the Lockyer Valley.
The inquest heard Maddison's behaviour had become increasingly erratic in the days leading up to Sen Const Forte's murder, with the gunman having spent two months avoiding an arrest warrant over a domestic violence matter.
The inquest heard Maddison had been calling police in Toowoomba from pay phones, telling them "youse (sic) know where I am" and "I left enough trails".
On the afternoon of May 29, Maddison was spotted in Toowoomba and pursued by several police vehicles down the Warrego Hwy before he veered off the road.
Police followed him along Wallers Rd - a dirt road - where Maddison suddenly got out of his car and opened fire with an assault rifle.
Sen Const Forte was killed and Maddison held specialist SERT officers at bay for 20 hours before they shot and killed him.
The operative said Maddison had been firing his weapon throughout the morning but on those occasions, he did not believe the shots were coming in their direction.
"I am aware of the sound of gunfire ... the crack and the thump that can be heard by gunfire," he said.
"If a round is travelling over your head ... you will hear a crack or a whizzing.
"I was pretty confident the rounds were not coming over our head because I've heard that sound before."
The operative said he and his team had been given information from both PolAir and other police about how negotiations were going with Maddison.
He said around 11am he heard the automatic gunfire being returned by his SERT colleagues.
He said seconds later, he saw Maddison running towards him.
"I heard that initial burst of gunfire and then some rounds after that," he said.
"So that was what ... led me to believe that he was armed at that point and there'd been an exchange of gunfire (between Maddison and SERT)."
The operative said he told his partner Maddison was running towards him.
"If we were to verbally challenge him ... there's a chance it wouldn't be fast enough," he said.
He said other SERT operatives shouted at Maddison to stop.
"I identified the rifle being held in both hands. His right hand was on that pistol grip. It was in a position where he could press the trigger at any moment," he said.
"I felt the only option was to use lethal force."
The operative said after Maddison was shot, armoured vehicles drove towards him to attempt to give the gunman medical assistance.
Another officer deployed to the stronghold said he was previously sent to Toowoomba to find Maddison after local police asked for help looking for him, prior to the shooting of Sen Const Forte and the siege.
He said the search was unsuccessful and he knew Maddison to be a recidivist domestic violence offender, wanted for a number of matters.
After the siege began the officer said he was part of a changeover of officers at 5am after other SERT operatives had contained Maddison for about 14 hours.
They discussed plans to contain Maddison and what action they would take if he tried to leave. Their focus was to contain him and arrest him and not let him leave the cordon.
Maddison had maintained a "level of rage for 14 hours" and had been saying the same thing over and over again at that level was "extremely unusual", he said.
"We spent a lot of time discussing what the current negotiation strategy had revealed, what the possible triggers were for escalating or de-escalating depending on the mood of Mr Maddison at the time," he said.
"Our priority was to arrest Mr Maddison."
Maddison had gone from talking about shooting as many police as possible in Toowoomba to calming down during negotiations, he said.
Police then made efforts to not escalate Maddison's agitation and they tried to get him off the phone and talk to people directly in the police BearCat.
They also discussed disabling his vehicles and were concerned he might try to leave on a motorcycle.
Maddison would end up leaving the rear door of the stronghold carrying two weapons, before firing at the SERT vehicles. He said their orders were to engage with him at that point.
A senior sergeant who was part of a team of negotiators told the inquest they attempted to convince Maddison to surrender.
He said he has been an operational negotiator since 1991 and acted as the team leader after arriving on scene on the morning of May 30.
"In the short time I was there you could see that what I was briefed on was still ongoing," he said.
"(Maddison) would be abusive towards negotiators ... lots of swearing, and then he'd be apologetic.
"Not necessarily (aggressive) towards negotiators ... just police."
The senior sergeant said at one point, Maddison was hinting at coming out.
He said Maddison had talked about charges that would be levelled against him and he'd asked for permission to offer Maddison a lawyer.
He said Maddison was also very concerned about his motorbike, which police were attempting to disable using the Bombcat robot.
He said they tried to use the motorbike to negotiate a peaceful end.
"If you will come out and surrender, we won't touch your bike," he said they told Maddison.
The negotiator was asked if he had any suggestions with training or other areas that might help in future incidents.
"I personally can't think of any training that is going to affect a situation where it was obvious that this person's mind was made up," he said.
Originally published as SERT cop recounts crazed gunman's dramatic final stand