Policeman shot dead during training exercise

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The Independent Online

A police firearms officer was shot dead by a colleague yesterday during a training exercise at a disused warehouse after what investigators said could have been a mix-up over the type of ammunition loaded in their weapons.

The Greater Manchester Police (GMP) constable, who is understood to have been part of the force's specialist firearms squad, suffered a serious chest wound at about 11.30am during an exercise apparently focused on a group of four cars parked outside a large industrial building in the Newton Heath area of the city previously used as a distribution centre by the electronics company, Sharp.

Paramedics tried to treat the officer at the scene before he was taken to the North Manchester General Hospital. He died undergoing surgery. It is thought he is the first officer to have been killed with a police weapon in nearly 60 years.

Dave Whatton, acting chief constable of GMP, said: "The firearms training exercise was taking place completely away from any members of the public, involving experienced firearms officers. During the course of that exercise, a police officer was killed.

"Everybody in Greater Manchester Police is devastated by the news that we have all received and the loss of a highly-regarded colleague and friend." Surrounded by other factory units and adjacent to a busy railway line, the empty warehouse is understood to have been used regularly in recent years by GMP for training exercises.

A police spokesman said the exercise was "reasonably routine" but the precise circumstances of the accident, which involved another officer, were being investigated. A source said the type of ammunition being used in the exercise, which included live and blank rounds, was one line of inquiry.

The focus of the examination at the site north-west of Manchester city centre appeared to be four cars parked in pairs and taped off from the rest of the warehouse yard. A bullet-proof vest, oxygen mask, helmets and a yellow high-visibility jacket were on the ground close to the cars.

One of the vehicles, a grey Citroen Xsara, had a smashed front window with glass on the ground below it.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission said it was conducting an initial assessment of the incident before making a decision on whether it will formally investigate.