Man shot by police was unlawfully killed, inquest finds

Lewis Skelton was shot twice while carrying an axe through Hull in 2016

Liam James
Saturday 16 October 2021 00:03
<p>Skelton’s family welcomed the ruling </p>

Skelton’s family welcomed the ruling

A man who was shot dead by police while carrying an axe through the centre of Hull was unlawfully killed, an inquest jury has ruled.

Lewis Skelton died after he was shot twice by a police officer when Tasers had no effect, the jury at Hull Coroner's Court heard.

The jury heard he was killed after he failed to respond to officers' instructions to stop.

Humberside Police received three 999 calls on 29 November 2016, saying a man was walking down a main road carrying an axe.

Armed police were deployed and two officers caught up with Skelton, who had mental health problems, on Caroline Place in the city centre.

The officer who fired the fatal shots – identified only as B50 – said how Mr Skelton failed to stop when challenged. He said the use of a Taser four times by both he and his colleague – identified only as Charlie – had no effect.

Skelton was shot twice in the back with a Glock pistol.

The officer said he shot Skelton as he believed he was a threat to the lives of a group of workmen who were approaching him in the street.

Chris Noble, Assistant Chief Constable of Humberside Police, said: “We are disappointed with this conclusion and are concerned that it does not undermine the confidence of officers to act decisively when making split-second decisions to protect the public.”

He said an earlier ruling by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) found that the officers had not committed a criminal offence or warranted disciplinary proceedings.

“We now await further directions from the IOPC. We respect the decision made by the jury today,” he said.

The family of Skelton welcomed the inquest ruling. A family statement read outside the court by his sister, Tia, said: “The jury has confirmed what we all knew, the killing of Lewis was wrong and it was unlawful and he should still be with us today.

“There was nothing to suggest Lewis was aggressive or a danger to anyone on that day.

“He was confused and frightened. His final moments being must have been ones of terror and fear, and that is so hard for us as a family to know.”

The family criticised reports at the time that Lewis was “a crazed axe man” and “axe wielding”, saying they “could not have been farther from the truth”.

The statement concluded: “What happened to Lewis has torn our family apart and broken all our hearts, affecting each and every one of us in unique and different ways.

“Lewis needed help but he was killed. He should never have been taken from us.”

Additional reporting by PA