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