SHOT: Christopher McGrail, 44, was shot by police on August 6, 2017 during a confrontation in Grafton and died in hospital.
SHOT: Christopher McGrail, 44, was shot by police on August 6, 2017 during a confrontation in Grafton and died in hospital. Matthew Elkerton

Grafton police shooting death inquiry begins

THE Coronial Inquest has begun into the police shooting death of a Grafton man in 2017.

Christopher McGrail was shot twice during a confrontation with police on North St on the afternoon of August 6, 2017, and died during emergency surgery hours later after he was transferred to Gold Coast University Hospital.

During his opening address to Grafton Coroners Court yesterday, Counsel Assisting the Crown Rob Raken said the purpose of the inquiry was to determine if Mr McGrail had intentions to end his life prior to his death, if he was suffering from mental illness during the confrontation with police, whether the actions of the responding officers was appropriate and their interactions consistent with their training, if they were adequately trained to deal with the situation and if there was any alternative to the use of lethal force.

Mr Raken told the court Mr McGrail was a 44-year-old father of four at the time of the incident, and while he had been in an out of prison for violent offences and was a regular user of marijuana and amphetamine, his drug use escalated following the suicide of this eldest son Clinton McGrail-Skinner aged 18, in 2015.

Mr Raken said Mr McGrail had been diagnosed with depression and had sought treatment from the Bulgarr Ngaru Medical Aboriginal Corporation in the following years.

In the month prior to the shooting Mr Raken said Mr McGrail had a number of violent incidents that police attended to, including an alleged assault on a Grafton taxi driver, and an incident at a Lismore service station where he approached a fuel tanker with a lighter in an alleged attempt to set fire to the location.

The court heard Mr McGrail was treated by doctors following both incidents, where methamphetamine-induced psychosis was diagnosed.

Mr Raken said on the morning of August 6, 2017, Mr McGrail attended a property on North St where a violent confrontation occurred with the house's occupants, where Mr McGrail threatened to kill one person with a hammer and stabbed another person, telling the residents they were "copper dogs" and told them "today is the day I'm going to see my son".

According to the Coronial brief of evidence, police arrived at the scene around 3.45pm after receiving a number of triple-0 calls.

Mr Raken said Mr McGrail armed himself with a knife soon after police arrived, and didn't drop it following multiple requests from the officers present to drop the knife.

The court was told Mr McGrail was tasered to no effect, and continued to act in an erratic and aggressive manner towards police.

Mr Raken said Mr McGrail was also holding the knife against his neck, and told police words to the effect of "kill me, I want to see my son" and "shoot me, I'm going to be with Clinton".

The court heard at 4.14pm Mr McGrail moved towards one of the officers, who then fired twice, striking Mr McGrail in the chest and right leg.

Despite rendering first aid at the scene, Mr McGrail was transported to Gold Coast University Hospital but declared dead at 11.50pm that day. A critical incident inquiry was launched in the hours following the death, as Mr Raken said the death was unusual and sudden and since the death was a result of police operations an inquest must be held.

The inquiry continues before Deputy State Coroner Magistrate Truscott today.

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