Open verdict on man hit by police vehicle

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The Independent Online
An inquest jury yesterday returned an open verdict on a student who died after being struck by an unmarked police Range Rover taking armed officers to arrest a suspected contract killer.

The jury took more than two hours to reach its verdict after a two-and-a-half-day hearing. Sir Montague Levine, the Southwark coroner, said the case was 'literally bristling with conflicts of evidence'. Witnesses claimed the vehicle was travelling at between 80 and 100mph, but the driver said he was doing 60mph. Biniam Aran, 27, of Meadow Lane, Lambeth, south London, died instantly as he crossed a road in the borough.

His stepbrother and a friend who were with him said the Range Rover 'appeared from nowhere' and struck him on a pedestrian crossing in Clapham Road, Lambeth. But the driver, Constable Nigel Lloyd, said Mr Aran had suddenly run diagonally in front of his vehicle.

The dead man's family said the vehicle drove off without stopping after the incident but this was denied by PC Lloyd. After the hearing Mr Aran's stepbrother, Amanuel Fasil, said it was 'totally ridiculous' that it had taken police until half an hour before the inquest to give the family's lawyer copies of witness statements.

Benedict Birnberg, the family's solicitor, said an independent system of investigating incidents involving the police must be set up as soon as possible or there would always be suspicions of a police 'cover-up' of facts. Civil action would be taken against the officer.