The daughter of a Canberra man who died after being Tasered by police says she wanted to hate the police officer who fired the weapon, but couldn't after realising he was suffering too.
A powerful statement from Carley Sales-Caristo was read on Wednesday to the coronial inquest into her father Anthony Caristo's death.
Mr Caristo, 54, died at his Waramanga home in October 2017 after being Tasered by Acting Sergeant Nathan Macklin, who last year told the inquest he feared Mr Caristo would die if he didn't use the weapon to stop Mr Caristo self-harming further. He said Mr Caristo was not responding to police requests to drop a knife and was covered in blood and stabbing himself in the leg, having already inflicted wounds including the severing of one of his own fingers.
A post-mortem report found Mr Caristo's cause of death to be "cardiac arrest in a person exhibiting features of excited delirium syndrome and self-harm, who died following application of [a Taser] and use of methamphetamine".
In her statement, read to the inquest by lawyer Jane Campbell, Ms Sales-Caristo said she had felt "completely numb" since the initial shock of her father's death.
"At first I felt anger, followed by disbelief that he was no longer here," she said.
"I thought to the days where my daughter would grow and continue to ask about her pop and what I would tell her.
"I thought of my wedding day when I would walk down the aisle without him there beside me to hold my hand, and every moment in between."
Ms Sales-Caristo said in the months leading up to her father's death, he "seemed to be doing really well".
He told her he had stopped drinking and they planned to see each other and "catch up on missed moments and milestones", the biggest of which would be Mr Caristo meeting his granddaughter for the first time.
"He was so excited to meet her," Ms Sales-Caristo's statement said.
She said she felt "left in the dark" in her search for information about what had happened to her father, and found herself wanting to speak up on occasions.
"I was so angry; angry at the thought that [police officers'] decisions on that particular day changed the fate of my relationship with my dad and our future," Ms Sales-Caristo's statement said.
"It raised so many questions. Why did they not wait for a negotiation team? Why did they not look into the [Police Realtime Online Management Information System] further and how could three highly trained men not devise a plan to de-escalate a situation where a man was already showing signs of mental illness and injury?
"I couldn't understand. I still don't."
But Ms Sales-Caristo said all her thoughts "seemed to pause" once she was sitting in front of Acting Sergeant Nathan Macklin, the officer who fired the Taser.
"I wanted to hate him, but instead I saw a man who appeared to be suffering just as I was," she said.
"I couldn't help but feel empathetic.
"A decision which was made in such a short period of time that had the power to change the fate of multiple lives, whether the right decision or not, was made."
Ms Sales-Caristo said she could not remember the last time she closed her eyes without thinking of her father in his final moments and wondering whether he had been trying to comply with police requests, only to find himself unable.
"I see images in my head of him on the floor with the Taser barbs still attached, or the post-mortem images of his body in pieces, and instantly feel nauseous," she said.
"I now know what the phrase means, 'to have a heavy heart'.
"The day my dad died was the day my heart broke.
"I never expected that to feel this way was more than just words, but a physical reaction also."
Ms Sales-Caristo said since her father's death, she had found herself "withdrawn and impassioned, avoiding social situations and overreacting to simple things such as emergency services sirens".
"I have sleepless nights and my appetite has significantly decreased," her statement said..
She said her father's death tormented her daily, and while she needed closure, she had no idea how to find it.
She said if nothing else, she hoped her father's death raised the topic of mental illness, and that it encouraged further awareness and education around Taser use on people with signs of mental health issues or injury.
"I know it won't bring my dad back, but to know it may save a life in the future is worth me speaking up on behalf of myself and my dad, and his grandchild, [who] he never got the chance to meet," Ms Sales-Caristo said.
The inquest, before Coroner James Stewart, continues.