POLICE who cornered fugitive killer Raoul Moat last July did not commit misconduct, an investigation has ruled, just hours before as a verdict of suicide into his death was returned.
Both announcements were made today after the jury at the Newcastle Crown Court inquest into the gunman’s death was sent out this morning to decide on how he died.
After five hours deliberating on the evidence, the 10-man jury returned a verdict of suicide this afternoon.
The 37-year-old former doorman died following a six-hour stand-off with armed officers in Rothbury, after a week on the run.
The 14-day hearing was told that Moat was hit by an unlicensed, X12 Taser round, fired by marksmen who believed he was preparing to kill himself, but that it had ‘little effect’.
Meanwhile an Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) investigation into the operation has found that there is no evidence to support any officers committing misconduct during the stand-off operation.
The IPCC investigation, which was strictly embargoed until a verdict at the inquest was returned, examined the police response to the sighting of Moat at 7.25pm on July 9, 2010 and his subsequent containment, through to when he pronounced dead at 2.22am on July 10. This included the command, strategy and tactics adopted, including the acquisition, use, operational authorisation and deployment of the X-Rep TASERs.
The investigation has ruled that although there are lessons to be learned, no police officers committed misconduct.
IPCC Commissioner Nicholas Long said: “This was a police operation on an unprecedented scale. Northumbria Police were co-ordinating the search for a man who had killed one person, seriously injured two others and had expressed his intent to kill police officers and members of the public.
“This proved a hugely challenging situation for all officers involved. It is apparent from all the evidence collected in our investigation that the primary objective of the police was the try to preserve Raoul Moat’s life.
“I fully recognise that within such a dynamic and fast moving operation decisions have to made that don’t always comply with recognised policies and procedures.
“The decision by Northumbria Police to bring in unauthorised weapons in the form of X-Rep TASER was the subject of many questions, both at the time of the incident and during the inquest.
“Our investigation revealed the clear rationale behind the decision and the fact that Northumbria Police did seek legal advice. The force believed their intention to use whatever means they had to try to capture Moat alive overrode any questions of authorisation. It is recognised that given Moat’s clearly expressed intentions to harm himself and others, the X-Rep did present an opportunity to use non-lethal force to stop him.
“Equally the evidence shows normal requirements for training on new weaponry were not complied with. However, guidance was not in existence in relation to training on the X-Rep Taser because the weapon had not received authorisation. Within such a fast moving situation there would be no realistic prospect of taking a firearms team away from active duty for the 18-hours of training stipulated in guidance for use of normal Tasers. Northumbria Police believed providing the X-12 shotguns to shotgun-trained officers was prudent and given the context of the situation I must agree with that.
“The evidence collected by our investigation and heard at the inquest has shown how the two West Yorkshire Police officers deployed with the X-Rep Tasers acted in accordance with their instructions to try to prevent Moat shooting himself. His intent was clear and the officers’ actions showed the humanity of the situation.
“They, and the officers in charge of the operation, did not want more lives to be lost, including Moat’s. Unfortunately they failed in preventing Moat taking his own life. I know that is a source of deep regret for all involved in the events in Rothbury.
“It is clear from the evidence that there is no suggestion any discharge from the X-Rep Taser caused Moat to inadvertently pull the trigger. Moat was struck by one of the X-Rep Tasers, but this appears to have been a glancing blow which would have had very little effect. All the evidence shows a further distinct movement by Moat to raise the shotgun to his head before firing.”
Mr Long added: “Any incident of this scale must provide learning for a police force. It is clear there was a well thought out policy of how negotiations were to be conducted with Moat. There is evidence of consideration of using third party intermediaries such as Moat’s friend and half-brother. Negotiators worked tirelessly in difficult conditions to try to alter Moat from the path he had chosen to take. I know the fact they were not successful in averting to fatal outcome is hugely disappointing and upsetting for them.
“One area which could have been improved was the recording of the final negotiations. It is evident this aspect of the operation was not well planned. A negotiator was trying to record the events on a hand-held Dictaphone. Better and more durable equipment should have been used and the fact it wasn’t meant the opportunity to capture vital evidence in the final stages of Raoul Moat’s life was lost.”