The police partner of the murdered officer Senior Constable Brett Forte became emotional when she described him as a « very ethical » man who knew the law « inside and out ».
Senior Constable Cath Nielsen gives testimony today as she investigates the murder of her former partner after surviving the shooting that killed him.
Sen Const Forte was killed on May 29, 2017 by noted criminal Ricky Maddison after a low-speed pursuit in the Seventeen Mile in Lockyer Valley.
The court heard that Maddison’s behavior had become increasingly erratic in the days leading up to Sen Const Forte’s murder. The shooter had spent two months avoiding a domestic violence arrest warrant.
The investigation found that Maddison had called the Toowoomba police on payphones and said, « You know where I am » and « I’ve left enough tracks ».
On the afternoon of May 29, Maddison was spotted in Toowoomba and followed by several police vehicles on Warrego Hwy before he went 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 shooting him.
Sen Const Nielsen was in the passenger seat, Sen Const Forte was driving when they were shot at.
She told the court that she was serving as sergeant with the Tactical Crime Squad at the time, but was unaware of the details of an investigation into Maddison’s whereabouts by the Tactical Action Team.
« I was a sergeant on the job at Ricky Maddison, but I had no information about it, » she said.
Sen Const Nielsen said a week before the shooting that she only found out by accident that SERT officers were looking for Maddison in Toowoomba.
Sen Const Nielsen told the court that Sen Const Forte made a radio call during the chase warning his colleagues to be « very careful » with Maddison as he was known to have guns.
She said he learned more about Maddison from his wife, Susie, who investigated him on domestic violence allegations.
« We knew that a gun was used in this particular job (domestic violence), » she said.
She said she and Sen Const Forte became the « primary » chase vehicle when they encountered dirt roads because they were in a four-wheel drive vehicle.
She said she had never driven down Wallers Road before and she did not know that Sen Const Forte had done so.
« It was obvious and I got in my head he was taking us somewhere, » she said.
« At the same time, Bretty was saying something similar. So obviously we were both thinking at the same time.
« I called again, where is Polair? We knew it was a high risk … it was our job. »
When asked why she called Polair, Sen Const Nielsen said that Maddison was a dangerous perpetrator.
She said they did not consider stopping the persecution and needed information from communications and other areas.
Sen Const Nielsen said she was considering a possible showdown with Maddison as they followed him down the dirt road.
She said she was considering using her taser and knew there was another police vehicle behind her to assist her should Maddison stop.
« He didn’t want me to handcuff him and lead him to the car, » she said.
« He got out of the vehicle and got out and turned to us … and was just starting to shoot.
« Because it was narrow and very steep and he was on top … he was essentially shooting down at us.
« At the same time I took out my gun and started shooting through my windshield, » said Sen Const Nielsen.
Sen Const Nielsen described the efforts of her and her colleagues to smash the windshield of their car – under fire – to rescue a seriously injured Sen Const Forte.
« I started smashing it from the outside. Not only does it smash … it was pretty heavy.
« I pulled him back on me and I think that’s when I realized the amount of blood.
« There was a bullet hole in his arm and no blood came out. »
She once said: « Bretty, can you hear me? » but its « color had changed ».
Sen Const Nielsen said she had suggested that police give investigators higher-rated ballistic vests after the shooting.
« But when people with guns are out and about in Toowoomba, Queensland every day, we are confronted more and more. »
« Something like that would have given us more time to maybe get a little more distance between us and him, » she said.
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