The non-fatal shooting of a man by Wiltshire Police during a robbery in Swindon in June last year was necessary and proportionate, an investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) has found.
Wiltshire Police were called to the robbery at Rivermead Industrial Estate, Westlea shortly after 5pm on 16 June 2020. Armed officers attended as it had been reported a man was carrying a handgun. Police encountered the 59 year-old man at nearby Shaw Ridge Road, and on their arrival the man got into the driver’s seat of a stolen lorry and turned the engine on.
Evidence shows officers verbally challenged the man and saw he had a weapon, which after later testing was found to be an air pistol. Officers approached the man at gunpoint, standing either side of the stolen lorry. During the incident officers discharged Taser twice. The man raised his weapon towards one of the officers and fired, hitting an officer in the face with a ball bearing. After the man raised his weapon, the other officer fired a single shot which struck the man in the thigh. Officers placed the man on the ground and immediately began providing first aid before paramedics arrived and took him to the hospital.
After a mandatory referral from Wiltshire Police, we sent investigators to the scene and to the post-incident procedures to begin enquiries. In the course of the investigation, we examined mobile phone and police officers’ body-worn camera footage, along with Taser download information, police radio transmissions and experts’ reports. We reviewed accounts provided by the officers involved who were treated as witnesses throughout. We also considered policies and procedures on the deployment of armed police.
IOPC regional director, Derrick Campbell, said: “Armed officers were called to reports of a man carrying a handgun and were faced with a frightening and dynamic situation. Having investigated thoroughly, we are satisfied that the force used to detain the man including the firearm discharge was necessary and proportionate. After the man failed to comply with verbal commands, the officers had initially deployed the less-lethal option of Taser, but these steps were unsuccessful in subduing him. The man’s actions caused armed officers to have a genuine and legitimate fear for their own and others’ safety. After the man was shot, officers swiftly began first aid to help preserve his life. The officers involved dealt with an armed confrontation in a highly professional manner.”
At the conclusion of our investigation in January this year we shared our report with Wiltshire Police. We found that officers had followed relevant guidance and policies in terms of the armed deployment and their actions and decision-making, and no learning from the investigation was identified.
One police officer received minor injuries during the incident. The 59 year-old man has since pleaded guilty to a range of offences including robbery, possession of an imitation firearm and causing actual bodily harm to an officer.
- Stats since 1st January 2022
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