Police lawfully killed crossbow man

 

A man who fired crossbow bolts at police was lawfully killed by a firearms officer who shot him, an inquest jury found today.

Depressed Keith Richards, 47, was hit by a round from a sniper rifle after he angrily remonstrated with officers from the bedroom window of his rented home in Cheapside, Shildon, County Durham, in May 2009.

The drunk father-of-two had indiscriminately fired crossbow bolts and called for police to shoot him, an inquest at Newton Aycliffe heard.

Almost three weeks after the hearing began, the jury returned a verdict of lawful killing.

The jury foreman said in court that it was likely Mr Richards had intended to be shot by armed police, had said as much in a series of 999 calls and was standing at his bedroom window in a "threatening manner" with the crossbow.

Mr Richards, who lived apart from his wife, had handed back their home to the bank before it was repossessed.

He was distressed at recently being arrested for drink-driving and had lost his window-fitting business after his tools were stolen.

After the verdict, Coroner Andrew Tweddle said he would consider making Rule 43 recommendations for changes to police policy - which can be made after inquests to save lives in the future.

Among his concerns about how Durham Police dealt with the situation was a lack of training over crossbow incidents.

Mr Tweddle also raised a question mark over a delay in officers entering the house after Mr Richards was shot, which coincided with a change of silver commander.

Afterwards Mr Richards' brother, Stephen, a retired detective inspector with neighbouring Cleveland Police, said: "We accept the verdict of the jury but we feel quite strongly it still should have been possible for the police to contain the situation longer, to allow for the arrival of specialist, trained negotiators, which we heard were arriving at the scene at the time that shots were fired.

"It was of great interest to us to hear the remarks the coroner made in respect to Rule 43 recommendations."

Durham chief constable Jon Stoddart paid tribute to the firearms officers on duty that night, who were referred to in court only as C, D and E, saying: "They have been extremely professional throughout.

"I saw them four hours after the fatal shooting and from then until now they have been a great example.

"They are good guys, they have been under a lot of pressure and they have conducted themselves very well."

Mr Stoddart expressed his condolences to the Richards family, adding that the dead man's behaviour that night was out of character.

Responding to the family's concerns about the negotiators not being able to speak to Mr Richards, the chief said: "The fact of the matter is the threat from Mr Richards was severe and the police officers had a duty to protect the life of the community around them."

Mr Stoddart added: "It is the first time we have had the occasion to fire fatal shots in 170 years and it is only the second time we have discharged firearms at a member of the public. It is a very rare occurrence."

PA

News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
fashionHealth concerns and 'pornified' perceptions have made women more conscious at the beach
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Sport
Ojo Onaolapo celebrates winning the bronze medal
commonwealth games
Arts and Entertainment
Rock band Led Zeppelin in the early 1970s
musicLed Zeppelin to release alternative Stairway To Heaven after 43 years
Arts and Entertainment
High-flyer: Chris Pratt in 'Guardians of the Galaxy'
filmHe was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
Sport
Van Gaal said that his challenge in taking over Bobby Robson's Barcelona team in 1993 has been easier than the task of resurrecting the current United side
footballA colourful discussion on tactics, the merits of the English footballer and rebuilding Manchester United
Life and Style
Sainsbury's could roll the lorries out across its whole fleet if they are successful
tech
Travel
The shipping news: a typical Snoozebox construction
travelSpending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Arts and Entertainment
'Old Fashioned' will be a different kind of love story to '50 Shades'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Tracey Emin's 'My Bed' is returning to the Tate more than 15 years after it first caused shockwaves at the gallery
artTracey Emin's bed returns to the Tate after record sale
Arts and Entertainment
Smart mover: Peter Bazalgette
filmHow live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences
Environment
Neil Young performing at Hyde Park, London, earlier this month
environment
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
Boris Johnson's war on diesel

Boris Johnson's war on diesel

11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
5 best waterproof cameras

Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

Louis van Gaal interview

Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

Will Gore: Outside Edge

The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz