Officers have been questioned about discrepancies in their accounts of what happened on the morning Moree man Gordon Copeland drowned.
A coronial inquest into the Aboriginal man's death has heard that police "followed" a vehicle, believed at the time to possibly be stolen, before the occupants decamped resulting in a search in the early hours of July 10.
The inquest started in Moree last week. Earlier in the week officers gave evidence that after returning to the station following the initial search, believing everyone was accounted for, they returned to the scene to collect shoes for evidence.
However, one policewoman's version of the events differs.
On Friday, Constable Alice Smidt-Geering explained she had overheard a conversation between other officers when they returned to the station.
She said, the officers were speaking about how they had heard somebody murmuring at the river and were then directed by their superior to return to the scene to call out and try and find the person. She says this conversation took place in person.
This differs however to prior evidence that the officers were only tasked to go back to the scene to collect further evidence, and that a phone call was then made from there.
"Do you think you could be mistaken?" counsel assisting the coroner, Dr Peggy Dwyer asked.
"That is my evidence," she reiterated.
Upon being recalled, Leading Senior Constable Crystal Manusu, said Constable Smidt-Geering got it wrong. "I'm not saying she is dishonest, just that she has mixed it up."
"I am of the opinion, with the utmost respect for Alice, that she might be confused about the time-frames or the conversations, and the times that those conversations may have occurred. I'm not saying that a similar conversation didn't occur, but I think she might have confused it," she said.
Missing person report
Constable Abbey Cook gave evidence that Gordon's mother, Narelle, called the station asking if her son was in police custody as she had not heard from him.
When told he was not, Ms Copeland said he may be missing.
"At that stage, in my mind, I put two and two together that Gordon might be the person in the river but the detectives (who had taken over the case) said everyone was accounted for," Constable Cook said.
The police were accused of hanging up on Ms Copeland when she called the station but the officer said she "absolutely would not" have done so.
"When I took the call, I think I possibly may have put the phone down to go and check." She said it was possible she put the caller on mute while she did this.
"I did not hang up. And later that night I called to see if Gordon's grandfather was coming to make a missing person's report. Narelle sounded distressed and that's why I phoned her back."
Constable Cook explained that she had told Ms Copeland a report could only be done in person and that if she herself could not do so from her location at Lismore, that a family member could go into the Moree station.
The court heard that on July 11 distressed family members visited the Moree Police Station asking why the search had been called off.
"They wanted police to go back out. It was getting heated so Senior Constable Manusu came out and she was getting details from them."
Constable Cook said Manusu called a local detective to try and ask more details about why the search was called off but "she never found out" and was "frustrated" by the procedures.
The owner of the vehicle involved in the incident also visited the station at a later time and said the family had gone to the river to search for Gordon.
"Police didn't realise at the time the person missing in the river was Gordon, but we now know the family was right and the police were wrong," Dr Dwyer said. "So they had good intel."
"We didn't receive that info though," Constable Cooke said. "We didn't get any of that intel until the family came in and told us that (the owner of the car) had informed them that Gordon was in the car, so we had no idea prior to that."
"You can understand why the family were distressed can't you?" Dr Dwyer asked. "In response to the intel, did you take it seriously?"
"Yes, Senior Constable Manusu started to get details and tasked crews to make inquiries," Constable Cook said.
She explained that it was difficult though, not having information to relay to the family as to why the search was called off.
Warning to the public
Meanwhile, a warning was issued to the public that posting on social media could "derail" the inquest.
Dr Dwyer said it had been brought to their attention that some people might have taken a photo of the livestream, which they may not have been aware was an offense, and posted it on social media.
"Unfortunately some threats have been made to, or directed, to police. We don't want anyone to be charged and we don't want anybody to be hurt."
Her Honour, Magistrate Teresa O'Sullivan, state coroner said, "The last thing anyone wants is for anything to happen to derail this inquest".
"We want to do it in a way that is safe and that the family gets to find out as much information as possible."