The family of a tattooed gym junkie who shot up his ex-girlfriend’s home and two police stations before he was gunned down says a brain injury fuelled his final act.
Sandra King, the mother of Daniel King, 33, has made the claim more than three years on since her son was shot dead by police on October 2, 2019.
King had shot up his lover’s home in Marayong then fired rounds at St Marys and Penrith police stations, in western Sydney, before he was shot by police.
Sandra said her son’s life had become a living hell in the lead-up to the shooting after he suffered repeated knocks from his years playing rugby league.
Daniel played eight years of the sport semi-professionally and five years in amateurs, where he constantly sustained blows to the head – one of which resulted in a stroke.
It comes after an inquest into Daniel’s death found he was willing to let police end his life when he engaged them in the deadly shootout.
Sandra’s belief that brain injury was behind her son’s behaviour has been backed up by associate professor Michael Buckland, who examined Daniel’s brain and believes he was suffering from CTE or chronic traumatic encephalopathy.
Daniel King (pictured), 33, was gunned down by police on October 2, 2019. It’s believed he was suffering from CTE from repeated head knocks
Daniel, wielding a shotgun, engaged police in a shootout outside Penrith police station after previously shooting up St Marys police station and his ex-girlfriend’s house
‘The only reason he did what he did was because of the trauma and pain in his head,’ Sandra told the Sunday Telegraph.
‘Daniel’s suffering has been traumatic for not just his friends and family, but the police that day and even more broadly.’
Daniel was shot 24 times by officers outside Penrith police station.
His night of rampage began when he fired a shotgun at the home of his former partner, Stacy Taylor, in Marayong at 8:45pm.
He then drove to to St Marys Police Station where he fired three more shots before arriving in Penrith just before 10pm.
During the carnage, a shell from his shotgun ricocheted off the back of a cop car and struck an officer in the head.
The blow resulted in that officer suffering ‘permanent nerve damage and memory issues’.
It was found that Daniel was not aiming at any officer when he discharged the shotgun at that moment.
The inquest deduced that Daniel had no intention of harming police officers at the station as he had opportunities for ‘kill shots’ and didn’t take them.
An inquest into Daniel’s death found that he was willing to let police end his life on that night
His family have blamed repeated head knocks from his years of playing rugby league for his actions
His mother recounted moments when her son suffered heavy blows playing rugby league as she called for sporting bodies to take CTE more seriously.
Daniel’s rise through rugby league began when he was selected to play for the Penrith Panthers in an elite under 16 junior rugby league competition.
He went on to play for the Windsor Wolves, where he was focused on training and aiming to play professional rugby league.
When Daniel was 22, the Wolves made it to the grand final and played off against the Sydney Bulls.
At the beginning of the game, Sandra recalled Daniel making the first tackle against an opposing player, where both men ‘collided and went flying’.
It resulted in the opposition player copping a broken jaw and missing teeth while Daniel was knocked out.
He soon regained consciousness and played the rest of the game.
Sandra said after the hit her son only knew what team he was playing for by looking at his jersey.
In the following year, Daniel was struck in the neck by the shoulder of an opponent during a game. His mother said that hit left him ‘drowsy’, with his legs going ‘weak’.
Upon returning home, Daniel started to vomit and feel unwell. He was taken to hospital and put under observation for a concussion.
An MRI scan revealed that he had a stroke and was diagnosed with ‘lateral medullary syndrome’.
Daniel was initially ‘unable to communicate, interact or comprehend anything’ and spent weeks in hospital recovering and learning how to do basic tasks.
Sandra says she knew her son had suffered considerably as a result of the stroke as he ‘couldn’t handle heat, was easily disorientated, his memory suffered, his eyesight was failing’.
She added that even with Daniel’s considerable size and appearance, a ‘gust of wind could have knocked him off his feet’.
Daniel suffered several heavy knocks playing semi-professional rugby league in his early 20’s. One hit to his neck resulted in him being ‘unable to communicate, interact or comprehend anything’
His personality and demeanour changed and he increased his use of cocaine, steroids and antidepressants after the incident
Daniel suffered from depression and increased his use of cocaine, steroids and antidepressants after the incident. His personality and demeanour also changed.
Associate professor Michael Buckland, founder of the Australian Sports Brain Bank, says it was likely Daniel had the early stages of CTE when he had the stroke.
‘As things went on, the CTE would have impaired his ability to cope with all these life challenges. We know that many people with early stages of CTE turn to drugs and alcohol so I would see his drug and alcohol use as a common and expected behaviour pattern for someone with early stages of CTE,’ he said.
The coroner also ruled that CTE contributed to Daniel’s behaviour but couldn’t ascertain whether it was the factor that most significantly affected his deteriorating mental state.
Professor Buckland has called for junior football clubs to ban tackles to reduce the likelihood children develop a brain disease.
He said that the effects of CTE and concussion required more research as there was no way to determine how widespread CTE was.
He added that there was an estimated ’15 per cent of professional American football players affected and there is no reason to believe that would be vastly different for rugby league, union and AFL’.
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