Inquest: Did ‘sweet girl’ really need to die?
SINCE her shocking death the family of Courtney Topic have filled their social media pages with pictures of their "beautiful" girl.
Courtney's mother Leesa Topic told friends she was grateful she persisted with taking so many pictures of her kids.
"Looking at the many, many photos that I have of all of us gives me comfort and reminds me of the precious times we had and still have with each other. Family is everything," she told friends in an online post.
In another she said: "Photos and memories are all that I have of my precious Courtney."
There is one picture that was taken of Courtney the family never wanted to see. It was the final picture taken of the 22-year-old and it happened moments before her death.
She was standing on a street in West Hoxton, in Sydney's west, on a warm summer day in February 2015. She had dark sunglasses on and was sipping from soft drink she held in one hand.
In the other hand she held a knife with a 20cm blade.
Staff at a nearby Hungry Jacks had called triple-0 to say they could see her walking around in the car park with the knife.
Footage recorded on a mobile phone showed police arriving at the scene. Five officers surrounded Courtney and a confrontation started. Exactly what happened will be closely examined at an inquest at the NSW Coroner's Court at Glebe at a hearing expected to last all week.
Witnesses told media Courntey lunged at officers, and may have been "charged" at them. It's believed an officer tried to stop her running onto a busy road by spraying capsicum spray - but when that didn't work - an officer fired the fatal shot.
News.com.au understands as well as the spray police tried to taser Courtney. The taser failed to discharge and the officer was instead forced to shoot.
Witness Ashton Tuimaseve said when she was shot she "acted a bit groggy and then dropped".
Ms Topic died at the scene and her family had to deal not only with her death, but the knowledge that she was killed in a way that was so alien to the gentle, quiet person they knew.
For three long years the family have wanted answers. Why did she take the knife that day? What was going through her mind? And why did police have to shoot her dead?
"It's so far removed from who Courtney was, so far removed from everything she represents, everything she was brought up with, everything she knows."
The family did not want her remembered solely for the brutal way she died.
"She is a beautiful person who wouldn't hurt anybody and, for whatever reason, something went the worst kind of wrong that day, went horrifically wrong," she said.
Ron Topic, Courtney's father, agreed. That day didn't end the way it should have.
"What happened that day should never have happened."
He thinks the police could have handled things differently and doesn't want any other family to endure what his have over the past three hours.
Courtney was diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome, a form of autism, in her late teens and her condition may have played a role how the events unfolded.
She rarely went out alone and struggled in most social situations. A lot of her time away from her job at a supermarket was spent with family. She loved animals, heavy metal music and vampire novels.
At her funeral her three brothers Kristopher, Zachary and Brodie, delivered an emotional eulogy.
"You were such a shy, quiet girl, and you wouldn't hurt a fly," said her brother Kristopher.
"You were my first ever friend. And I'll say now what I never did: (you're) so beautiful, I'm so proud of you."
The brothers ended their eulogy with a quote from her favourite book, Dracula, which is also inscribed on her tombstone.
"There are darknesses in life and there are lights, and you are one of the lights; the light of all lights."
The day she died there was no sign anything was wrong.
"If we thought there was anything wrong that morning we would have all been here. There was no inkling that anything was going to transpire," Mrs Topic said in the 7.30 interview, which was the first they have given since the shooting.
After the interview aired on Thursday night Mrs Topic told friends she wasn't sure how she got through it.
"Difficult days ahead but we'll keep on going," she wrote on Facebook. "We're broken but must go on for our beautiful girl."
Dozens of friends posted online of how beautiful Courtney was and how strong the family had been since her death.
Last year as the anniversary of her death approached one friend expressed the anger and hurt many were feeling.
"I crumble knowing she should have been here today. Not one of us are perfect. We do or say things that are wrong .What happened to beautiful Courtney was definitely a major wrong decision that took a beautiful girls life and left your family with a life sentence of hurt and grief. I hope the courts see how wrong that cop was. He needs to be punished for his actions."
The inquest opens before Deputy State Coroner Elaine Truscott Monday morning.