Police shot man in the head after false tip-off

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A MAN was shot in the head by a police marksman as he walked home from a pub carrying a wooden table leg in a plastic bag, an inquest was told yesterday.

Henry Stanley, a decorator from east London, was shot when he turned in response to a shouted warning from two armed policemen behind him.

Mr Stanley, known as Harry, was shot by both officers after they challenged him with the warning: "Armed police! Stop!" One bullet hit his left hand and the other his head, killing him instantly.

Inner north London coroners' court was told that armed response units from the Metropolitan Police were sent out last Wednesday evening after a 999 call from a member of the public claiming that a man had left the Alexandra public house in Hackney carrying a sawn-off shotgun tightly wrapped in a blue plastic bag.

Detective Superintendent Bryan Craddock of Surrey Police, who is conducting an investigation into the shooting for the Police Complaints Authority, told the inquest that two armed officers carrying Glock 17 automatic pistols left their vehicle and took up position behind Mr Stanley, who matched the description of the suspect.

Det Supt Craddock said: "They verbally challenged Mr Stanley and on the second challenge he stopped and turned around. As a result of his alleged actions at this point, the officers fired one shot each. One entered the victim's head, the other struck his left hand. He fell to the ground. First aid was immediately rendered but it is believed he died instantaneously."

The shooting happened near the junction of Victoria Park Road and Fremont Street at 7.54pm. Mr Stanley was officially certified dead by a doctor at the scene at 8.12pm.

Mr Stanley, 46, had been unemployed through ill-health. He lived in Hackney with his wife and had three children. The inquest was told that a post-mortem examination carried out by a Home Office pathologist had concluded that he had died from a single gunshot wound to the head.

A second post-mortem examination has been done by a pathologist on behalf of the Police Federation, and a solicitor acting for Mr Stanley's son Jason applied yesterday for a separate examination to be carried out on behalf of the family.

The coroner, Stephen Chan, expressed his deepest sympathy and condolences to friends and relatives of Mr Stanley attending the inquest, which Mr Chan adjourned for further investigation.

Outside the court, Ian Bynoe, of the Police Complaints Authority, said the investigation team believed several witnesses to the shooting had not come forward. He said: "There is an elderly couple who may live locally, who have not made themselves known to investigators and please would they do so."

After the adjournment, Det Supt Craddock said that the person who had made the 999 call had been traced and had said they genuinely believed Mr Stanley had been armed. He said: "They have explained that that is what they saw and felt obliged to report to the police. They had concerns that this particular person, Mr Stanley, was in possession of a sawn-off shotgun."

Det Supt Craddock said that the two officers had given only written accounts of the shooting and would be formally interviewed soon.

Witnesses to the shooting are asked to contact Surrey Police on 01932 845544.