PC 'was shot in back as he ran for his life'

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The Independent Online

A police officer fought back tears yesterday as he described how a suspect brought a handgun towards his face, then shot him in the back and shoulder as he ran for his life.

Despite sustaining serious injuries and bleeding heavily, PC Neil Roper, 45, pressed his panic button to alert colleagues after he was hit. But the warning came too late to save PC Ian Broadhurst, 34, whom the gunman "calmly" shot through the head as lay wounded and pleading for mercy on pavement in Leeds, a jury at Newcastle Crown Court heard.

PC Roper knew from his police radio that his colleague might be dead. "I heard 'expedite', officer down. I knew it wasn't me," he said.

David Bieber, 38, an American, denies murdering PC Broadhurst and attempting to murder PC Roper and a third officer, PC James Banks, 37, after they tried to handcuff him on suspicion of driving a stolen BMW car on Boxing Day last year. He also denies possessing a firearm with intent to endanger life and possession of 200 9mm bullets.

PC Roper, an officer with 18 years' service, told the jury that he felt uneasy about the suspect soon after asking him to get into the back of the Ford Mondeo patrol car that two of the policemen were driving.

PC Roper said: "I asked him where he was from, I believe he said Canada. I asked if he could produce any form of identification and I was looking at him and there was something about him. It is hard to explain, just how he was looking at me [and] the way he was with me. He wasn't abusive and not threatening. He just sat there very cool and calm."

As a precaution, PC Roper requested back-up from PC Banks and switched on the audio recording equipment in the patrol car before a pick-up vehicle arrived to retrieve the black BMW 316.

PC Broadhurst did most of the questioning in the car, although PC Roper, who checked the tax disc, occasionally joined in. "I asked him [Bieber] how long he had been in the country and I think his reply was a number of months," he said. "I asked him if he was married and I think it was to do with a divorce. That was what I was going through, so there was a bit of a joke with me and Ian."

When asked to provide identification, the suspect pulled out a mobile phone, some cash and something which looked like a video card out of his left trouser pocket.

"This pocket was the only pocket I could get him to look in, that's when I started to worry a bit more," said PC Roper. Then PC Roper tried to handcuff the suspect. "I leaned down and I just put my head in the door," he said.

"'You are not cuffing me', that's what I heard. Just as I looked, there is a black handgun just coming into my face. I shouted 'gun'. The only thing I ever heard was two shots."

PC Roper fled when he was shot a second time, in the base of his back on the right-hand side, and felt a "searing pain [as if] my arm had fallen off". He radioed his colleagues. "I do not remember if I said, 'Check the others, Ian' [or] 'get some help'," he said.

He sought shelter at the nearby Turnbull Court housing complex and stayed there until he was taken to St James's Hospital in Leeds, where he underwent extensive surgery to his bowel and arm.

He did not identify Mr Bieber as the suspect in the shooting when he was asked to take part in a video identification parade.

The jury was shown a video of the officer in hospital taking part in the identification process. He looked distressed as he sat wrapped in a gown, surrounded by cards in the hospital room.

The driver of the recovery vehicle, Simon Furness, who had been called to collect the BMW, saw the gunman shooting PC Broadhurst from a distance of about two feet. He was "very calm and very accurate," Mr Furness said.

Mr Furness told the jury: "I heard a bang and I looked round and the bang seemed to be coming from the police car.

"I looked round and went round to the near-side of the police car. I then saw an officer on the floor. He had his back to me. His legs were obscured by the police car. I could see his arms."

Mr Furness said: "He was crying out in pain. He was moving his arm. That's when I saw, heard, another bang. At that point I noticed a man stood behind the officer holding what I believed to be a gun.

"I then saw and heard another shot which seemed to be aimed towards the officer."

Robert Smith QC, for the prosecution, asked how the gunman was holding the weapon. Mr Furness replied: "He was stood with his legs apart and he was holding the gun with both hands and with his arms forward.

"Then I saw the second shot when the gun was pointing at the officer's head. He fired the gun again and the officer stopped moving. He [PC Broadhurst] was holding his hands up, crying for help."

Mr Bieber, who was known in the UK under the alias Nathan Wayne Coleman, has admitted possessing 298 9mm bullet cartridges without a firearm certificate. The trial, which is expected to last a further three weeks, continues today.