Forensic services officers examine the scene of a fatal police shooting in Grafton in 2017.
Forensic services officers examine the scene of a fatal police shooting in Grafton in 2017.

Grafton man shot after options ‘exhausted’

A NSW Police weapons and tactical options safety instructor has given evidence at the coronial inquest into the police shooting death of Christopher McGrail that officers at the scene had exhausted all tactical options available to them prior to the shooting.

Police responded to a domestic violence call-out in the afternoon August 6, 2017 in North St, and found Mr McGrail and another man outside a property.

Mr McGrail produced a knife shortly after police arrived, and a confrontation escalated with three officers until Mr McGrail was shot twice. He later died during emergency surgery hours after he was transferred to Gold Coast University Hospital.

Senior Constable Adrian van der Valk, a NSW Police weapons and tactical options police review unit member and safety instructor, told Grafton ­Coroners Court that the ­tactical options model was part of mandatory training for all NSW Police officers, and that officers were able to choose options they felt necessary to gain control of a scenario.

During questioning from Counsel Assisting the Crown Rob Raken, Sen-Constable van der Valk said communication was the most fundamental use of force used by police in a confrontation, and that the tactical options were employed to control an offender or situation.

Sen-Constable van der Valk conceded the drawing of the police appointments, such as their capsicum spray, taser or firearm, could convey the message to the subject that if police directions are not complied with, the weapons may be used.

"It's up to the officer to use the option they feel is needed to gain control of the situation," he said.

SHOT: Christopher McGrail, 45, was shot by police during a confrontation in Grafton and died in hospital.
SHOT: Christopher McGrail, 45, was shot by police during a confrontation in Grafton and died in hospital.

Given Mr McGrail was not complying with repeated and varied commands and pleas from police to drop the knife and he was actively attempting to cause harm by advancing towards police with the knife in front of him, the use of firearms was an appropriate response as a "last resort" to control the situation.

"All other options had been exhausted, they weren't ­working, they didn't work," Sen-Constable van der Valk said.

Sen-Constable van der Valk also told the court that when officers are taught in using their firearms, their training is to aim at centre mass of a body to limit the risk of any other person or object being hit.

The inquest continues before Deputy State Coroner Elaine Truscott today.



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