The family of an unarmed father-of-two who was shot dead by a police marksmen as he sat in a stolen car said they were “bitterly disappointed” over the decision not to prosecute the officer for murder.
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) concluded that a jury would believe the unnamed firearms expert had acted in self-defence and used proportionate force when he shot Anthony Grainger, 36, at near point blank range hitting him in the heart and lungs.
No serving police officer has ever been charged with murder. Mr Grainger was the first person to die in a police shooting since Mark Duggan whose death sparked rioting across London and the rest of the country.
Mr Grainger's parents are said to be devastated that no individual will be held responsible for the shooting in a village car park in Culcheth in Cheshire in March 2012. Two other men were in the car at the time and no firearms were ever found.
Greater Manchester Police Chief Constable Sir Peter Fahy will be charged with allegedly breaching health and safety legislation for alleged “serious deficiencies in the preparation for this operation that unnecessarily exposed individuals to risk.”
However Sir Peter will not face personal criminal liability for the actions of the 16-strong armed response team which were being deployed outside his force area and he will not appear in court.
Mr Grainger was known to police. He was cleared in 2009 of conspiracy to supply drugs in multimillion-pound drugs trial in which he admitted handling stolen cars and was jailed for 20 months
Described by his family as a “dedicated and loving father” the mechanic had been under police surveillance in the weeks prior to the shooting during which it was alleged he and other men scouted out potential robbery targets across the North West.
In a statement his parents Marina and John Schofield said: “Whilst we are pleased that some charges are to be brought as a result of Anthony's death we are bitterly disappointed that the officer that shot Anthony will not face criminal proceedings.”
The CPS said it had considered whether to bring murder charges but there was insufficient evidence. “The officer has stated that he was acting in defence of himself and other officers when he fired,” it said.
Family lawyer Jonathan Bridge said no evidence of a planned crime had been uncovered during what was codenamed Operation Shire. Police claimed the men, who had rolled-up balaclavas in their possession, were conducting surveillance for a robbery they planned to carry out in the desirable commuter village between Liverpool and Manchester. The men said they said they were waiting to recover a debt.
A jury took just 45 minutes at the end of a trial to clear three defendants of conspiracy to rob. An inquest jury is set to consider the events leading up to his death later this spring. The family said this will be crucial in uncovering the truth of what happened.
Police fired a single bullet from a Heckler & Koch sub-machine gun through the windscreen of the stolen Audi in which Mr Grainger, from Bolton, Greater Manchester, was sitting in the driving seat as they attempted to make the stop.
A report by the Independent Police Complaints Commission, believed to be highly critical of the handling of the operation, will not be published until legal proceedings are complete although the family will receive a copy within the next seven days. They say their grief has been compounded by being kept completely in the dark over the progress of the inquiry over the past 22 months.
Mr Bridge said a fine offered little in the way of justice for Mr Grainger's family. “That is the likely outcome. It is just transferring money from one Government department to another. There is no one being held culpable for this killing,” he said.
The first hearing against GMP will be on 10 February at Westminster Magistrates' Court.
Alison Saunders, the Director of Public Prosecutions, said: “In addition to every employer's responsibility towards their employees, the law also imposes a duty to ensure that work is carried out in a way that ensures, so far as is reasonably practicable, that persons outside of their employment are not exposed to risk.”
The force cannot be prosecuted for corporate manslaughter because it had no duty of care to Mr Grainger. Prosecutors said there was “insufficient evidence” to bring charges against the officer for gross negligence manslaughter or misconduct in public office.
GMP Deputy Chief Constable Ian Hopkins said: “Mr Grainger's family, and the officers involved, have had to wait a long time for this decision to be reached and we share the frustrations over those delays. However, we understand that it was vitally important that the investigation was carried out thoroughly to establish all the facts. ”
In 2007 the Metropolitan Police was found guilty of endangering the public over the fatal shooting of Brazilian Jean Charles de Menezes at Stockwell tube station. It was fined £175,000 with £385,000 costs. He was shot seven times when police marksmen mistook him for a suicide bomber after a series of catastrophic blunders.
An inquest jury returned an open verdict rejecting the police's version of events that Mr de Menezes had been lawfully killed. The CPS concluded there was insufficient evidence to charge any officers in connection with the shooting.
In July GMP was fined £166,666 and ordered to pay costs of £90,000 when Sir Peter pleaded guilty on behalf of the force to breaching health and safety law over the shooting of unarmed police officer PC Ian Terry during a training exercise. He had been playing the role of a criminal fleeing police in a car and was hit in the chest. A firearms training officer was fined £2,000.
Last week an inquest jury found Mark Duggan had been lawfully killed by police.