One of the first police officers to arrive at the Fishmongers’ Hall terror attack thought he would not survive to see his family again when he realised an improvised explosive device was wrapped around the attacker.
The officer, who can only be referred to as WS5 to protect his anonymity, told an inquest jury: “If I’m honest, I didn’t think I was going home.”
Before officers arrived Usman Khan had stabbed Cambridge graduates Jack Merrit, 25 and Saskia Jones, 23, to death at an education event for prisoner rehabilitation at Fishmongers’ Hall on 29 November 2019.
WS5 told jurors that as he arrived at London Bridge Khan had been tackled to the ground by members of the public. “I could see one male on the pavement on his back and lots of other people standing around and few other people on top of him.
“I got myself involved and was pulling people off. Then I noticed an improvised explosive device on the person on the floor,” he said.
“When I was in his face, in his personal space, I remember him shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’ at me. At that point I thought, ‘That’s it, I’m not going home to see my family or my friends either,’” WS5 said.
WS5 said that the device looked “viable and real”.
Having served with the armed forces in Afghanistan, WS5 was familiar with IEDs and believed the device – made of various cigarette packet-sized packages, tape and wires — to be a credible threat.
He told the inquest that he pulled bystander Darryn Frost off Khan before he heard colleagues fire a taser and two shots as Khan tried to stand up.
Khan then remained on the ground for approximately eight minutes, WS5 told the inquest, before he began to sit up.
“I remember in disbelief he kind of sat up, which threw me and us all, how he’s still moving around and sitting up,” WS5 said.
“I believed he was still a threat and needed to be neutralised as soon as possible,” he added.
WS5 said he was about 50m away from Khan when he opened fire. “I looked through my sight, it went to his forehead.”
The shot appeared to hit Khan, was who was seen wiping blood from his head. WS5 said he then aimed for Khan’s “central body mass”, firing several rounds.
In total, 20 shots were fired by six officers over a period of 10 minutes. WS5 fired 10 of the rounds over a period of 90 seconds that he said “seemed to go on forever”.
Khan was pronounced dead an hour later, once the scene had been secured. The bomb was later found to be fake.
Last week, an inquest jury found that “omissions and failures” on the part of authorities in managing Khan following his release from prison contributed to the deaths of Merrit and Jones.
The inquest into Khan’s death continues at the Guildhall in the City of London.
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