POLICE officers had "no other choice" but to shoot Tafari Walton as he ran at a detective, a knife raised in his right hand, in the cramped backyard of a home at Glendale in March, 2019, a coronial inquest has heard.
The inquests into the brutal stabbing murder of Gabriella Thompson, the mother of Walton's child, and subsequent police shooting of Walton less than 24 hours later have began hearing from the six police officers involved in the shooting, including a detective and target action group (TAG) officer who fired the fatal shots.
Walton, on the run after murdering Ms Thompson, had attempted to carjack a woman at Glendale on the morning of March 14 before returning to the family home where TAG officers were waiting outside.
Walton, officers said, looked directly at them in their car, beckoned them over and smiled before they followed him down the driveway and into the backyard.
Meanwhile, down the left hand side of the home three detectives were streaming into the backyard.
They found Walton on the back deck and while telling him to drop the knife he repeatedly shouted: "f---ing shoot me". Walton, they said, stepped back before running at a detective with the knife raised. Two police officers shot him once each and he later died.
"I believed that Mr Walton was trying to kill [the detective] and he was at immediate risk... [so] I discharged my firearm," TAG officer Chris Fullick said. "I believed the use of my firearm was the only way I could stop that threat to him."
Detective senior constable Jonathan Newton - who was in the backyard but did not discharge his weapon - said other police had no option but to shoot Mr Walton.
"He ran at us," he said. "We couldn't disengage, we were confined back there and the risk of him jumping over the back fence and continuing to offend was an issue. "As detectives we don't carry tasers. "There was no other option. "We attempted to communicate with him, we attempted to calm him down. "Our presence alone wasn't going to stop him. "There was no other choice."
The inquest has previously heard TAG officers were unaware Walton's family had been moved to a "safe house" and were not at the home at Glendale when they moved in and confronted Walton. Regardless of whether they knew there was no threat to anyone in the home, police have said officers still would have advanced on Walton. The inquests in Newcastle Coroner's Court are examining a number of issues relating to the murder of Ms Thompson and police shooting of Walton, including whether police took appropriate action in shooting Walton.
- PHONE: 1800 RESPECT