A former Lake Macquarie detective who shot a man wanted for murder almost two years ago has told a court he thought he was going to die when the 22-year-old came at him with a knife.
Nathan Webb, who was a Detective Senior Constable with 17 years of experience when he fired at Tafari Walton in a Glendale backyard on March 14, 2019, gave evidence on Friday at the dual inquests into the deaths of Walton and Gabriella Thompson.
Police fatally shot Walton less than 24 hours after he murdered Ms Thompson - the 27-year-old mother of his child - by stabbing her 16 times.
The inquests have this week been examining several issues relating to the murder of Ms Thompson and subsequent police shooting of Walton, including the adequacy of mental health treatment provided to Walton, the decision to grant Walton bail despite him being charged with stabbing another inmate in jail and whether police took appropriate action in shooting him.
In court on Friday, Mr Webb described the lead-up to the incident - including receiving a request for urgent assistance after officers saw Walton go into the backyard of the Glendale home.
Mr Webb and two other detectives made their way down the left side of the house while other officers went down the right side.
The court heard that Mr Webb, who was in front of the other two detectives, suddenly found himself only a few metres from Walton in the backyard - Walton was on higher ground at the top of a flight of stairs and brandishing a knife.
As Walton held the weapon above his head and told Mr Webb to "just shoot me, brother", the detective urged the 22-year-old to drop the knife multiple times, the court was told.
Mr Webb, who unholstered his gun before he reached the backyard, pulled out his capsicum spray, but he told the inquest it failed to properly deploy when he tried to spray Walton.
The court heard that Walton took a slight step back before he moved towards Mr Webb, who fired his gun at Walton along with a nearby Target Action Group officer who had come around the other side of the house.
"I thought that my life was about to end, I had nowhere to go - I had a pool fence behind me and a garage in front of me. I was stuck where I was," Mr Webb said, who left the police force after the incident.
He disagreed with an assertion that he put himself in a vulnerable position by moving into the backyard too quickly.
The former detective conceded under questioning that he could have adopted a more defensive position but said he was primarily concerned with arresting Walton because he was a suspect in a violent murder case.
"The consequences, had Mr Walton escaped those yards, were potentially catastrophic," Mr Webb said.
"Mr Walton was a person who was on the run, being a suspect for homicide. He displayed a propensity for violence before the homicide ... and after the homicide."
Sergeant Paul Scott, a NSW Police tactical trainer, told the inquest he believed Mr Webb's decision to fire his gun at Walton was reasonable.
"He perceived a threat that his life was in danger," Sergeant Scott said.
"He didn't have the ability to withdraw or disengage. He was crowded, he was spatially aware of the environment he was in."
A statement was read to the court on behalf of Ms Thompson's family - describing the mother as a young woman who was loyal, bubbly, loved life and did not have "a mean bone in her body".
"We all feel cheated that we didn't get to spend more time with our beautiful Gabby," the family said in the statement.
"I hope this hurt and suffering brings a change to the system, which doesn't push domestic violence to the side.
"The suffering and let-down in the last hours of her life are clear for all to see."
Lawyer for the Walton family, Drew Hamilton, said in a statement on Friday afternoon: "The Walton family wish to acknowledge that they did all they could to assist two young people who were navigating their way through issues of domestic violence, drug abuse and mental health".
"They also acknowledge the pain of both families, the first responders and service providers involved," the statement said.
"They are hopeful that the evidence from this inquest will assist to identify areas we can strengthen in the systems that address these issues resulting in less domestic violence and mental health-related fatalities."
The inquest will hear oral submissions next month before findings are handed down - expected to be in April.
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