Tele: Tafari Walton: Inquest hears pepper spray failed in the seconds before cop shot dead murderer

A police officer has revealed he had no choice but to shoot Tafari Walton, after his pepper spray failed as the wanted killer lunged at him with a knife.

Walton, 22, was shot twice by police on March 14, 2019, in the violent culmination of a 24-hour manhunt, after he brutally stabbed to death his partner, Gabriella Thompson.

A coronial inquest into the circumstances of both Walton’s and Ms Thompson’s deaths previously heard police arrived at Walton’s family home in Glendale moments before him, on a tip he was going to visit his mother.

Walton had smiled as he beckoned officers to follow him down a side driveway and into the backyard.

The inquest on Friday heard from the officer who found himself confronted by Walton at close range, and almost the victim of another of the killer’s attacks.

Detective Senior Constable Nathan Webb revealed he had left the police force since the shooting, diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder and depression, and also experiencing memory loss.

But he was forced to recall what happened in those moments with Walton, on what was the final day of evidence for the inquest.

Det. Snr Const. Webb said right up until the shooting, it was the intention of police to arrest their person-of-interest, or at least contain him to the property.

He said when he reached the backyard Walton was on the deck with a knife in his hands.

“I stepped out and called on him to drop the knife,” Det. Snr Const. Webb said.

“I said ‘police, Tafari, drop the knife’.

“He turned and looked at me and beckoned with both hands.

“He said ‘just shoot me brother’ … that was the first thing he said to me.”

Det. Snr Const. Webb said he ordered Walton to drop the weapon again, and Walton once more asked the officer to shoot him, beckoning him closer.

The officer stepped out from behind a balustrade, face-to-face with the killer from the bottom of the deck stairs.

“He starts shuffling towards me,” Det. Snr Const. Webb said.

“I continued to call on him to drop the knife.

“As he’s getting closer it’s changed to more of a ‘come on mate just drop the knife’, a plea for him to do it.”

But what was next supposed to resolve the situation without violence turned horribly wrong for the officer.

He drew his pepper spray and fired at Walton – but it didn’t work.

“It seemed to come out but it didn’t seem to go anywhere,” he said, motioning as if the spray fell in a stream directly to the ground.

He said the pepper spray didn’t hit Walton or affect him in anyway.

It was upon this realisation Walton ran off the top of the deck, lunging at the officer with the knife high in his right hand.

“There’s only way to go when he’s coming forward and that’s straight at me … with the knife up,” he said.

“My point of no return for him was when he went over that top stair.

“I thought ‘he’s going to stab me and either I’m going to be hurt real bad or I’m dead’.”

Det. Snr Const. Webb fired two bullets – one hit Walton in the chest.

The killer was also shot in the head at that moment by Snr Const. Chris Fullick, who was further away, and gave evidence to the inquest on Thursday.

Det. Snr Const. Webb said he couldn’t remember what happened in the moments between firing his gun and Walton landing at his feet.

His psychologist has since explained this as his body trying to protect him from the trauma of the memory.

What he does remember is jumping backwards as Walton landed on the ground, the knife released from, but still near his hand.

He said he was in shock as his colleagues led him away from the scene.

Asked by Counsel Assisting the State Coroner, Jake Harris, whether there was anything else he could have done that day to prevent the loss of life, Det. Snr Const. Webb said it was something he’d thought about for the past two years.

“Apart from not going to work that day, no.”

The inquest will hear oral submissions on February 22, before State Coroner Magistrate Teresa O’Sullivan delivers her findings at a later date.


Categories: ALL POSTS