The heartbroken wife of a hero police officer has lashed out at police, claiming a possible “cover-up” was staged after her husband was gunned down by a wanted man in an ambush.
Speaking to 7News Spotlight on Sunday, Senior Constable Susan Forte told reporter Denham Hitchcock about the traumatic 2017 incident in which her husband Brett Forte was shot dead by a crazed gunman.
Senior Constable Forte died after his vehicle was riddled with 27 bullets from an automatic weapon fired by Ricky Maddison on May 29, 2017 in the Lockyer Valley west of Brisbane.
Ms Forte, along with a coronal inquest into her husband’s death, accused the Queensland Police Service of trying everything to silence her about the operational errors that she believes contributed to his death.
Senior Constable Brett Forte (left with his wife Susan right) was shot dead by Ricky Maddison in the Lockyer Valley west of Brisbane on 29 May 2017
During Denham Hitchcock’s year-long investigation, it was revealed that killer Ricky Maddison, 40, had a history of extreme domestic violence, and police also knew he possessed multiple automatic weapons.
Years before the fatal attack, police had received a warning about Maddison from a man named Dennis John Distant, who knew Maddison because the killer used to hang out with his “drug-addicted son.”
“He had several rifles of all different calibers… I know they were automatics,” Mr Distant said in his tip to police.
“I reported it to the police but the police never came by and didn’t do anything about it…they had planned together to take out the police.”
“I told Scott they want to get you (sic).”
During Denham Hitchcock’s year-long investigation, it was revealed that Ricky Maddison (pictured), 40, had a history of extreme domestic violence and police were also alerted to the possession of multiple automatic weapons
Scott Stahlhut was in charge of the Queensland Police Department’s tactical crime unit at the time of the shooting and was Brett’s chief.
‘He was going to wait at the edge of the driveway and shoot them when they came in,’ Mr Distant said.
This vital information was not shared with Brett Forte and his partner, Catherine Nielsen.
Senior Constable Nielsen added, “What I’m saying is, if Brett and I had known information that other people knew, there’s no way we would have gone ahead (the Ricky Maddison pursuit).”
Ms. Forte said it was her duty to fight for her husband.
“I’m Brett’s voice now, Brett is in a coffin, he’s in the graveyard… all because of a day that could have been avoided,” Ms. Forte said.
“Every time I tried and went deeper, they told me I’m making things up, I think stupid … and I’ve always been asked the same question, ‘Are you trying to get the police in trouble’ and ‘They’re being called vengeful widow considered”.
“Brett’s death was preventable, people knew it, they didn’t share information…because of their inaction and knowing they knew…that’s why Brett is dead.
“Because I asked questions, it’s like, ‘How dare you ask questions, you’re not authorized to ask questions, you just sit down, you shut up, you look at the assignment we’re doing give up and stop asking questions.”
“I’m Brett’s voice now, Brett is in a coffin, he’s in the graveyard… all because of a day that could have been prevented,” Ms Senior Constable Susan Forte (pictured) told 7News Spotlight
On the final day of the inquest into Brett’s death, Ms Forte was denied the right to read her victim impact statement.
It was blocked by solicitors acting on behalf of Queensland Police, including the Police Commissioner.
“It’s a big risk but Cath and I aren’t heard, we get shut down every time… so I’m talking to you (Denham Hitchcock) I’m desperate it’s my last resort and I would risk my job if you do this, because they don’t want me to talk, they want to shut me up,” Ms. Forte said.
“But I’m telling the truth, so there’s no harm in telling the truth.”
“Brett’s death was preventable, people knew, they didn’t share information…because of their inaction and knowing they knew…that’s why Brett (center) is dead,” Ms Forte said
The day after Mr Forte was killed, Maddison was shot dead by police after being ordered to surrender more than 80 times during a 20-hour siege.
Wanted for domestic violence offenses, he had led officers into a 30-minute police chase just minutes after a long phone call with Sergeant Peter Jenkins, during which he refused to turn himself in.
Footage of the shooting and the startling tone of the call were released last year by the state coroner as part of the inquest into the deaths of Constable Forte and Maddison.
Brett Forte’s killer, Ricky Maddison (pictured), was later shot dead by police after a 20-hour siege the following day
The video showed Maddison jumping out of his car to point a gun at Forte and his partner.
The gunman was driving his Nissan Navara when police spotted him just before 2 p.m. on May 29, 2017.
Officers chased him for 26 minutes with sirens wailing and lights flashing as he drove down a dirt road.
Constable Forte and his partner Cath Nielsen quickly joined the pursuit, becoming the primary police vehicle chasing Maddison.
“Just be aware he has been involved in firearms related crimes so be careful when arresting him,” Constable Forte is heard telling other officers during the pursuit.
As Maddison came to a stop on the dirt road, he was seen jumping out of his car and suddenly opening fire on the two police officers.
As they attempted to flee the area and backed down the road, their car rolled, leaving Mr Forte and Ms Nielsen as “sitting ducks”.
Maddison points a gun at Constable Forte and Nielsen before opening fire on the officers
Constable Nielsen was then heard screaming for help.
‘Can someone help? We need help here. We need help here,’ she said.
“We sit in wait. Forty is injured. Forty is injured. there is blood We need a hand here.”
Constable Forte died after being shot in the groin and arm while Maddison fled to a nearby fort, where he too was later killed.
Before the chase unfolded, Maddison had called his local police station with the 35-minute explosive device being played at the inquest.
The call allowed police to track down the wanted man in Toowoomba.
Constable Forte answered the phone before handing it to Sergeant Jenkins, the Courier Mail reported.
Maddison has been back and forth with Jenkins about his case and has repeatedly refused to turn himself in.
“They (sic) ostracized me from society. So that’s why I don’t live by your damn rules anymore,” Maddison can be heard saying on the call.
“I have nowhere to live, I haven’t seen my damn family in a year. I can’t see my niece or my fucking nephew. I can’t see my friends, I don’t have a damn life.
‘You broke me and I have nowhere else to turn.’
At the end of the call, when Sergeant Jenkins asks Maddison to tell him where he is, the gunman is heard laughing and saying, “You’d like that, wouldn’t you?”