A student was shot dead by a police marksman in a Derbyshire village yesterday after brandishing a shotgun that was later found to be unloaded.
Steven Dickson, 30, who threatened officers with a home-made shotgun during a domestic dispute with his former partner, Janet Blurton, was shot once in the body.
About 40 minutes before the shooting two police officers had let Mr Dickson walk free after Ms Blurton complained that he was threatening her with a knife. Police said they calmed down Mr Dickson, who left "peacefully". But he returned to the house in the former mining community of Codnor, Derbyshire, with a single- barrelled shotgun and threatened the two officers when they approached him again.
Four police officers armed with Steynr carbine shortened rifles were called to the scene and appealed to Mr Dickson to put down his weapon, police said.
A witness said that as Mr Dickson raised the gun and pointed it at an officer he was shot in the torso and collapsed in the street outside his former girlfriend's house at about 1.40pm. Trevor Smith, 49, who saw the incident from a bedroom window, said: "This chap who was shot was walking down the road toward the police officer with what looked like a sawn-off shotgun in his hand. The policeman was shouting 'Armed police, put your gun down!' The man lifted the gun up to his shoulder as if he was going to fire it and then I heard a shot. The man went down like a ton of bricks. Three police officers ran up to him but he wasn't moving."
An inquiry by detectives from West Midlands Police has begun and will be overseen by the Police Complaints Authority.
Derbyshire's Deputy Chief Constable, Bob Wood, said armed officers challenged Mr Dickson but "he did not respond to that challenge and regrettably it was necessary for the officers to shoot that person, fearing for their own safety and the safety of the person in the house". He added: "They are trained to disable the person as quickly as possible and the only way this can be done is by shooting at the largest body mass."
Attempts to resuscitate Mr Dickson, who is thought to have been a mature student at Derby University, were unsuccessful and he died in hospital just before 3am.
Steve Williams, 30, a close friend of Mr Dickson, said: "They should have shot him in the leg. He did not deserve to die. He was a good man. He had a replica shotgun, everybody knew that. No one deserves to die for something like this."
Les Goodwin, 71, said of dead man: "He was as quiet as a mouse. I did not think he had an aggressive bone in his body."
Yesterday's incident was only the second fatal shooting of a civilian by the Derbyshire force. The other fatality happened in 1977.Reuse content