Coroner clears police over fatal shooting

Three NSW police officers acted appropriately when they gunned down a "gentle" and much-loved man as he sat in traffic, a coroner has found.

Rodney Elkass died when he was shot in the head near Castle Hill police station on September 29 last year, after the 37-year-old raised a Glock 17 towards three plain-clothes detectives who rushed towards his ute with weapons drawn, an inquest into his death has concluded.

Deputy State Coroner Hugh Dillon said Mr Elkass's death was a "tragedy", rather than a result of police misconduct.

His death stemmed from a fist-fight with a workmate more than a decade earlier.

Mr Elkass had a chance encounter with that man and his brother on the afternoon he died, and the brothers - known as A and B - appeared bent on revenge, Mr Dillon told Parramatta Coroners Court on Thursday.

"If we trace the sequence of events backwards there are various things that, if they had been different or even slightly different, we might have averted this tragedy," he said.

"This is certainly a garden of many, many forking paths."

Two plain-clothes detectives who fired at Mr Elkass, Senior Constables Michael Wilkins and Paul Gardiner, have told the inquest they feared Mr Elkass was about to shoot a third officer, Senior Constable Paul Rosano.

Mr Dillon found Mr Elkass was a good man with great respect for police who probably never intended to shoot anyone, and would not have raised his gun at the officers had he known they were on-duty police and not associates of A and B.

He said the officers had failed to properly identify themselves as police, though the two are adamant they did.

"Once Rodney Elkass picked up his gun and pointed it towards Detective Rosano, I think that really closed any other option," Mr Dillon said.

"(The officers') action was instantaneous, but reasonable," he said.

The coroner recommended the NSW Police Force consider trialling cameras affixed to police guns and make visual identifiers like vests available to plain-clothes police.

The coroner also recommended that NSW gun laws be tightened to force shooting club members to store their firearms on club premises, and that a fact sheet about police authority to seize firearms be re-worded.

Mr Elkass - a gun club member - had failed a firearm inspection on his Glock just months before he pointed it at police, and it should have been seized at that time, the inquest has previously heard.

He certainly should never have been keeping a gun in his car, Mr Dillon said.

Outside the court, Mr Elkass's brother Ziad - a police officer of 16 years until he resigned from the force last month - said the family was "bitterly disappointed" the coroner had not called for disciplinary action against the detectives.

"It's always going to be the case that police will look after their own," he said.

ODT/directory - Local Businesses

CompanyLocationBusiness Type
Powerzone SuzukiBalcluthaMotorcycle Sales & Repair
Amalgamated FoodsDunedin
Trail Journeys Ltd/Otago Central RailtrailClydeRecreational Activities
Stafford GroupDunedinInsurance