Attack on Brett Forte's widow 'nothing short of disgrace'
QUEENSLAND'S police union has labelled the torment of Brett Forte's wife as "nothing short of a disgrace".
Widow and fellow senior constable Susan Forte built the courage to make a midday public appearance, after spending the morning surrounded by family, friends and colleagues inside the Toowoomba police station.
About 10.45am yesterday, Susan emerged from the station with tears streaming down her face and a large bouquet of flowers in her hand.
She walked slowly towards the makeshift memorial that had been made in her husband's honour.
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But as she laid the bouquet down - inconsolable and barely able to stand on her own accord - Rick Maddison's supporters saw an opportunity to let their voice be heard.
One person in a full car yelled "What about Rick?" as the Forte family huddled together, hunched over Susan in the floral sea of colours.
A gasp could be heard, but the family did not retaliate as the station wagon continued down Neil St.
Union president Ian Leavers lambasted the culprit.
"It is nothing short of a disgrace that associates of a career criminal and murderer would dare heckle a grieving widow while she pays tribute to her husband," he said.
"Police and their families deserve better than to be treated like this."
Despite the shock, Brett's father Stuart turned and smiled as the family walked away - Susan arm-in-arm with her daughter Emma Morris.
Stuart confirmed yesterday that Brett's funeral would be held in Toowoomba next Wednesday at the University of Southern Queensland campus.
Stuart said the family was doing its best to cope with the tragedy and the subsequent attention it had received.
Early morning visits to the Brett's shrine outside the station have formed part of the grieving process for the family over the last two days.
Via a lawyer yesterday, Maddison's family also spoke of their pain.
A statement - read out by Alroe and Sullivan's Solicitors practice manager Michele Alroe -claimed the murderer was more than just a career criminal.
"To us he was not the one-dimensional career criminal which the media are now portraying but rather a loved son, brother, nephew, uncle, grandson, friend and mate to many and as such will be sadly mourned," the statement read.
The statement went on to say that Maddison's actions may never be fully understood, but it expressed condolences to the police force and the Forte family.
The streets of Toowoomba are rife with anecdotes about Maddison's self-destructive behaviour.
Friend Anthony Hogan said Maddison was "banned from more licenced venues than he was allowed into", but said he would never hesitate to help out a mate.
"His name can strike fear into people. He was notorious ... I've known Rick for many years and I'm not ashamed to say," Mr Hogan said.
"I loved the guy and I will miss him.
"I'm not defending his actions or his criminal side, nor would he want me to defend him, but those who truly know him, well there was a caring and fiercely loyal side to the man too."
Stuart acknowledged that the Forte's were not the only family grieving and maintained that he felt no ill-will towards Maddison for his actions.
Brett Forte's funeral is expected to be held in Toowoomba next Wednesday.
The Courier-Mail reported today on the heroic actions of Senior Constable Forte's partner the moments after he was shot.
Constable Forte was shot by Maddison as he gave chase to the criminal in bushland on Monday.
It is understood Constable Forte and his partner were in one of three police cars that followed known criminal Maddison down a dirt road in a "low speed chase" around 2pm on Monday at Seventeen Mile, near Toowoomba.
His colleague used her bare hands to tear a hole in the windscreen of their upturned car so she and others could drag him to safety - all while under fire from a crazed gunman with an automatic weapon.
The Courier-Mail understands Constable Forte and his partner were in one of three police cars that followed known criminal Maddison down a dirt road in a "low speed chase" around 2pm on Monday at Seventeen Mile, near Toowoomba.
In bushland, Maddison stopped and opened fire with a high-powered automatic weapon, hitting Toowoomba Tactical Crime Squad officer Constable Forte.
His vehicle and the other vehicles tried to reverse, but his rolled on the rough terrain, trapping him and his partner inside. With Maddison still firing, several officers from the second vehicle ran back to try to get their badly injured colleague out.
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