- Brandon Rich has been identified with the permission of his family.
When Senior Constable Lindsey Kohlet and Senior Constable Stephen Bennett first attended Denise Rich's house on December 29, 2021, they didn't know what they were walking into, a Coroners Court in Dubbo has heard.
On Monday, November 27, 2023 at the inquest into the death of Brandon Rich while in police custody in 2021, Sergeant David Bentham of the NSWPF Operational Safety and Skills Command, Operational Safety Training and Governance Unit was in the witness stand.
Srgnt Bentham told the court that despite the officers not knowing the situation they were walking into, it would not have had an effect on their tactical options or affect their ability to do their job.
"I believe they dealt with it in an appropriate way," he said.
He told the court despite there being justification to use a taser - which none of the responding officers had on their belts - it was not the best option, in his view.
"There was no point, the bathroom was quite small," he said.
Srgnt Bentham said he believed the officers didn't have a chance to disengage with Mr Rich at any time during his detainment.
"When Senior Constable Bennett came to a closed bathroom door he heard something was smashed, glass breaking or something similar, he didn't know if he was arming himself with glass so tactical disengagement was not an option," he said.
When asked whether the officers could have de-escalated the situation when Mr Rich was trying to escape out of the bathroom window, Srgnt Bentham said that wouldn't have been the right option.
"They have a duty of care for him, so trying to get him down was the right thing to do," he said.
"Police aren't trained to apprehend someone halfway through a window, they are trained to get him on the ground.
"They probably wanted to get him out of the window and put him in a safe position on the ground to contain and restrict him."
Once out of the bathroom, Senior Constable Bennett put Mr Rich into a rugby tackle hold, something that is not a taught technique, Srgnt Bentham told the court.
"He was stopping access to weapons...there were a lot of tools and household items around," he said.
Listening to the testimony, Brandon Rich's mother yelled an outraged, "what?" from the public gallery.
With the situation unfolding "rapidly" Srgnt Bentham said there would have been no time for the officers to stop and plan.
"You are doing it so quickly...they had to respond immediately and I don't think they had the opportunity to plan," he said.
A crime scene
When a critical incident occurs, Detective Superintendent Joseph Doueihi is on the scene and as the investigator in charge of Brandon Rich's death, this was no different.
Superintendent Douehi was the last to give evidence to the court on Monday, November 28, explaining that when he was attached to the homicide squad in 2021, he was called to Wellington for a critical incident.
"As the officer in charge of the investigation I took total control and formed a critical investigation team," he said.
Liaising with Dubbo police officers until he could make the trek from Parramatta, he had the officers involved with the incident drug and alcohol tested, as well as the crime scene and Brandon Rich preserved.
"We separated the officers and they were given direction not to discuss the matter...there were no drugs found present in the officers," he said.
When preserving the scene, forensic evidence was taken - including fingerprinting and photos, Superintendent Douehi told the court.
Officers also went door knocking in the neighbourhood to find CCTV footage of Brandon and Denise Rich.
"This enabled us to track Denise and Brandon out and back into the house," he said.
"It was a couple of weeks worth of work and created a good timeline for us of their movements.
"The primary purpose was to accurately track Brandon and Denise Rich and accurately create a timeline, to assist the court in deciphering the movements of all parties."