An "initial visual search" around the scene where police shot a man dead in a village car park on Saturday night "has not located any weapons," the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) said last night.
The news came after the IPCC had already suggested there would be a long investigation into the shooting after it emerged that Anthony Grainger had previously been acquitted at a multimillion-pound drugs trial involving a corrupt police officer.
An inquest heard that Mr Grainger died from a single gunshot wound to the chest during an armed police operation into an alleged planned robbery in the quiet commuter village of Culcheth, in Cheshire.
The IPCC said that initial evidence "suggests two police firearms were discharged during the incident," but there will be a lengthy investigation into the shooting.
Locals described how children playing on the village green fled in horror as officers wearing gas marks and carrying weapons intercepted a red Audi estate in a car park close to crowded pubs and restaurants.
An officer opened fire through the windscreen of the vehicle in which Mr Grainger was sitting. Three other men were arrested. The 36-year-old from Bolton, Greater Manchester, reportedly did not put his hands up when ordered to do so by armed officers and was allegedly fiddling with an object.
Officers from Manchester Police's (GMP) Specialist Operations branch carried out first aid but Mr Grainger died at the scene. No shots were fired at police but witnesses reported hearing a series of bangs at about the time of the arrest. Locals said that armed officers had been spotted in the village, which is next to Risley prison, in the days leading up to the operation. It follows several armed robberies in the area. Mr Grainger's is the first fatal shooting by police since that of Mark Duggan in Tottenham, north London, last summer; Mr Duggan's death sparked rioting.
Police discovered significant quantities of cash, three sets of body armour and CS gas when they raided Mr Grainger's home during his previous arrest. He was subsequently acquitted of conspiracy to supply drugs. He was sentenced to 20 months in prison last year after he admitted handling stolen cars.
The trial centred on a corrupt police officer, PC Phil Berry, who sold a list of police informants to a Bolton drug dealer in return for a BMW and other bribes, including Premiership football tickets. He was jailed for four years. James Donaghy, deputy senior investigator for the IPCC, which is handling the investigation into the shooting, said his team had been in touch with the victim's family.
David Totton, 33, of Manchester, Joseph Travers, 27, of no fixed address, and Robert Rimmer, 26, also of Manchester, were remanded in custody yesterday charged with conspiracy to commit robbery.