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Friday, 13 July, 2001, 21:25 GMT 22:25 UK
Swordsman's family demands answers
Police cordon in Wavertree, Liverpool
Police cordoned off the scene of the shooting
The family of a schizophrenic man shot dead by police after he brandished a sword say there was no need for officers to open fire.

The Police Complaints Authority is to oversee an investigation into the death of Andrew Kernan in Liverpool on Thursday night.

Police were called to the home of Mr Kernan, 37, after his family and psychiatric workers became concerned that he was extremely emotional.

He left the flat and was shot twice in the chest by armed officers around 2210BST as he wielded the sword outside The Wellington pub, after a failed attempt to subdue him with CS gas.

It was reported that officers had spent 25 minutes negotiating with Mr Kernan inside his home in Wellington Grove before he grabbed a sword and left the flat.


Andrew was warm, gentle and wouldn't hurt a fly

Marie Kernan
Dead man's mother
The Police Complaints Authority (PCA) has promised a "thorough and impartial" investigation into the shooting, which will be led by Detective Superintendent David Crompton of Greater Manchester Police.

Mr Kernan was under the care of North Mersey Community NHS Trust, which had sent a psychiatric team to the flat he shared with his mother in the Wavertree district of the city.

His uncle, Ted Devlin, went there on Thursday after hearing his nephew was "having a bad day".

'Strong lad'

He said: "It was out of order shooting him. There was no need for them to open fire.

"There were a good six or seven officers in the flat. Andrew was a strong lad but surely there was enough of them to overpower him.

"If they had kept him in that flat he would have been alive today."


There are many examples of the use of CS making a situation much, much worse

Deborah Coles
Inquest
Mr Kernan's mother Marie described her music-loving son as, "the most loving person you could ever wish for".

Mrs Kernan, who was staying at a secret location while police combed her house for evidence, told the Liverpool Echo newspaper: "Andrew was warm, gentle and wouldn't hurt a fly.

"I am absolutely mortified by what has happened to him. I want justice - justice for Andrew.

"Andrew was mentally ill. He was not a bad person. He has never been in trouble and never had a criminal record.

CS criticism

"He loves music, loved The Beatles, loved movies and loved going on trips and breaks."

Deborah Coles, of deaths in custody group Inquest, said: "There are many examples of the use of CS making a situation much, much worse."

Rules of engagement for armed police (ACPO guidelines)
Must identify themselves and declare intent to fire (unless this risks serious harm)
Usually trained to aim for the torso, to incapacitate and for greater accuracy
Should reassess situation after each shot

Assistant Chief Constable Mike Tonge said Mr Kernan left the house after failed attempts by officers to "defuse the situation and build up a rapport".

He did not explain how Mr Kernan had managed to leave with a sword.

Using firearms had been a "difficult operational decision", but was balanced against the risk to the public and police.

"Mr Kernan continued to cause serious risk to the public and police officer safety."

Armed officers

Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) guidelines cover the rules of engagement for armed officers, but each force decides its own operational policy.

The armed officers involved will remain on duty, but not on firearms-related matters, during the investigation.

Brian William, who owns The Wellington, said his son-in-law had seen Mr Kernan trying to force his way into the pub.

"He basically shut the door in the guy's face and stopped him getting in."

Mr Kernan's aunt Pauline said her nephew was "a lovely lad", maintaining: "He was a schizophrenic but he had never been in trouble before."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Kevin Bocquet
"Merseyside police say they had no other alternative"
Chief Executive of Sane, Marjorie Wallace
"It is sad that this should have happened"
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