Ex-soldier shot by police after brandishing air rifle

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The Independent Online

A former soldier aimed an airgun at six police officers and staged a stand-off with an armed marksman before he was shot and killed, an inquest was told yesterday.

A former soldier aimed an airgun at six police officers and staged a stand-off with an armed marksman before he was shot and killed, an inquest was told yesterday.

Antony Kitts, 20, died last April after he was shot by a police officer at a roundabout outside Falmouth, Cornwall.

Mr Kitts had aimed at six different police officers with what they believed was a rifle, but later turned out to be an airgun, the inquest in Trurowas told.

Three officers in a patrol car had stopped him while he was walking down a road but he pointed the weapon at them, they said. He followed them as they reversed away and continued pointing the gun.

PC Ian Hilton said he thought it was a carbine, a shortened rifle. "I was concerned for mine and my colleagues' safety," he said. "He was shouting comments while pointing the gun at us." PC Andrew Hocking, who was also in the car, said: "For the only time in my life I thought I was going to be killed."

The officers were joined by an armed response team of three officers and a dog handler.

PC Hilton described the weapon he had seen to the three officers, who cannot be named for legal reasons. Mr Kitts then pointed the weapon at PC Gareth Bush, who was in a nearby police car, and the marksmen moved in.

PC Hilton said Mr Kitts crossed the road and went towards one of the marksmen,stopping 20 metres in front of Armed Officer A and Dog Handler C and aimed at them.

"There was more shouting and I remember thinking someone is going to be shot," said PC Hilton.

"I then heard a loud crack and realised a shot had been fired. The male with the gun didn't move but continued to hold his position. There was another loud crack and the male with the gun fell."

Mr Kitts, of Old Hill Crescent, Falmouth, was pronounced dead at hospital.

PC Hilton said Mr Kitts "seemed very knowledgeable about gun-handling and moving with a weapon". Mr Kitts was jobless and had a 10-month-old son by his girlfriend.

The shooting was referred to the Police Complaints Authority and an investigation was made on its behalf by Dorset Constabulary. Last December, the Crown Prosecution Service read the 270-page report on the shooting and said there would be no criminal proceedings brought against any of the officers involved.

The inquest, which is expected to last for two weeks, was adjourned until today.

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