On Tuesday, February 10th in 2015, Courtney Topic was shot dead by police standing outside a Hungry Jacks in Hoxton Park in Sydney’s Western suburbs.
She was 22 years old, and had Asperger’s syndrome – a developmental disorder on the autism spectrum which made it difficult for her to register and process other people’s emotions and behaviour.
In the last picture ever taken of her, shortly before the shooting, she was carrying a 20cm knife in her right hand and drinking from a take away cup in the other.
Reports after the incident said that police were called onto the scene after motorists reported a "zombie-like" woman walking through traffic.
When the police arrived Courtney wasn't responsive to their instructions. Officers failed to restrain her with a taser (news.com.au reports that it wouldn't discharge), and capsicum spray - which didn't penetrate because of her big sunglasses.
It was then she was fatally shot in the chest.
Three years after the incident, days before an inquest into Courtney's death at the Coroner's Court on Monday the 19th of March, her mother, Leesa Topic and father Ron Topic shared memories of their daughter on ABC's 7.30.
"It's so far from what Courtney is... was," said Leesa, correcting herself.
"Something went the worst kind of wrong that day. It went horrifically wrong."
Speaking about her daughter's actions that day, her parents said that there was nothing in Courtney's behaviour that they saw as a precursor to the tragic event, saying that Courtney was not a violent or aggressive person.
“Never, ever was Courtney violent, she wouldn’t hurt a fly,” said Leesa.
“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.
“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.”
Describing her struggles with Asperger's syndrome, Ron said that Courtney was only diagnosed after she had completed high school.
They said that she had difficultly making eye contact, and struggled in social situations.
"She said, 'Dad, you know how I like art? Do you know what a blank canvas is? That's how I see people's expressions. I don't know if people are happy or sad or if they want to engage or they don't want to engage'," he shared.
Since Courtney's death, Leesa has been regularly sharing photos of her daughter onto her personal Facebook page, sometimes editing her face next to family portraits.
"Missing her so much. The pain is all consuming, as you know," she wrote in one post.
Despite what might be revealed at the upcoming inquest, while Leesa know nothing will bring her daughter back, she hopes Courtney's death will not be repeated by police and is calling for better mental health education for officers.
"Surely we can do something better, make steps, we need to make changes," she said.
"I hope the Coroner can come up with some answers that will give us some peace.
"It won't bring Courtney back, but we will have a better understanding of what happened and things that may be done differently if, God forbid, this scenario every transpires again."
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