‘It was a shooting gallery’ when gunman opened fire

Senior Constable Catherine Nielsen, a former colleague of slain officer Brett Forte, holds back tears as she begins her testimony at the coronial inquest.

The pair often rode around together during their shifts and had worked together in the Toowoomba Tactical Crime Squad for “a number of years”.

Senior Constable Brett Forte was shot dead on May 29, 2017.

Senior Constable Brett Forte was shot dead on May 29, 2017.Credit:Queensland Police Service

“He was very good friend of mine … I did a number of jobs with Brett over the years, a lot of drug work [and] violent offenders. We had a very good working relationship,” she says.

Senior Constable Nielsen says she spoke to Senior Constable Forte’s killer, Ricky Maddison, when Maddison called Toowoomba police station five days before the officer’s death.

“He was rambling and volatile … I was trying to settle him down and talk about it … but he was very angry,” she says.

“He was swearing a lot, saying he had no phone, no money, no car, police had taken everything away from him … [including] his family and friends.”

Senior Constable Nielsen says, in the lead-up to the pursuit, she and Senior Constable Forte knew Maddison was classified as dangerous and may have a firearm.

“I had nothing directly to do with Ricky Maddison, but I knew about the 2015 [domestic violence] charges,” she says.

“I know there were some concerns of [police] inaction around Ricky Maddison.

“We didn’t really know what was going on, we just did what we were told, so to speak.”

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