Woolwich murder trial: Armed police officer 'feared for her life as Lee Rigby accused charged towards her with machete'

 

One of the first police officers on the scene of the murder of Fusilier Lee Rigby thought she was going to die when one of the killers charged towards her waving a machete, the Old Bailey heard today.

The officer, known only as D49, said that she could see the whites of the attacker's eyes as he ran at her with a weapon in both hands.

D49, the driver of a three-strong armed response team, said she had no time to pull her Glock pistol from her side holster before one of the men was on her, according to her statement read to the Old Bailey.

CCTV footage showed the first of the alleged killers sprint towards the marked police car as it pulled up close to the scene of the attack in Woolwich, southeast London, on May 22.

"A saw a flash to my right, when I looked I saw a black male running at me waving both hands up in the air with a chopping motion," said the officer in her statement.

"I instantly thought he is going to kill me," the officer said. "I could not immediately pull out my Glock. It was a split second decision to draw my Taser as at least I had something to protect myself.

"I could see the look in the suspects' eyes. They were so wide I could see the whites of them."

She said she heard shots after she opened the door of the car from over her right shoulder.

The officer then fired her taser and the man dropped to the floor. She only saw the second suspect, armed with a gun, when she heard further shots and he was hit.

"It felt like everything went in slow motion," she said in her statement. The gun held by the man on the ground was "still pointing in my direction", she said. "I thought oh my god, he is going to shoot me. I feared for my life."

She said she went to pull her gun and ducked when she heard a shot, thinking it was aimed at her. But she saw the gun then fall from the suspect's hand, the court heard.

The court heard that the two men, alleged to be Michael Adebolajo, 28, and Michael Adebowale, 22, were then given first aid and taken away.

Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale deny murder of Mr Rigby. They also deny conspiracy to murder and attempted murder of a police officer.

A second armed officer, identified as E48, was in court to give evidence in person.

He sat behind two large screens in the witness box, passing his warrant card to the judge to confirm his true identity.

Video footage of Adebolajo charging towards the officers and flying into the air as he was shot was played to the court.

Adebowale also falls to the ground as he is shot.

D49 is seen keeping her gun trained on Adebolajo as he lies on the ground, while E48 is seen rushing back to the police car to get a medical kit.

He and another officer then administer first aid to Adebowale.

Mr Whittam asked him why only one armed unit was sent to the scene.

E48 told the court: "It is always better to have more armed units but that was not something we could do at the time."

The prosecutor asked whether that was because of the "urgency" of the situation, and the officer replied: "Yes."

E48 told the court that the officers had "very little time" to react when Adebolajo ran at them.

"He started to move towards the vehicle which started to raise my perception of the threat," the officer said. "He almost instantly broke into a sprint and I realised we were being attacked. We had very little time to deal with the threat.

"He was coming at us."

The officer said that his colleague driving the car, D49, was left "essentially unable to defend herself".

He told the court: "She was defenceless, she had a pane of glass to protect herself, it was not ballistic glass."

The marksman opened fire on Adebolajo as he ran towards the car, telling the jury he was in "the frame of mind" that the suspect posed a threat.

"The second he started sprinting at us still in possession of that knife I made the decision to fire and until he fell away from the vehicle I was still in the frame of mind and I needed to take that decisive action to stop him."

He then saw Adebowale, who was lying on the ground after being shot, raise his arm in the air, the court heard.

"He raised one of his arms up. I've still got a distinct image in my mind of him holding a black revolver in his hand which I clearly saw, which struck me as unusual because he'd just been shot."

Adebowale was shot again in the thumb, and then given first aid, jurors were told.

The case continues.

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