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Wednesday, 18 July, 2001, 01:37 GMT 02:37 UK
Shot man's family demand apology
Police search scene
A gun-shaped cigarette lighter was found at the scene
The family of a man shot dead by police while carrying a gun-shaped cigarette lighter say they want senior officers to explain why he died.

Derek Bennett's relative want Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir John Stevens to apologise and tell them why he was shot six times when he was unarmed.

Mr Bennett was shot dead by armed officers in Brixton in south London, on Monday.

What we want him to say at an early stage is that they have made a mistake

Solicitor Imran Khan
Community groups who met police in south London on Tuesday have also demanded that the armed officers responsible be brought to justice.

Solicitor Imran Khan, who represented the family of murdered black teenager Stephen Lawrence, said he had been instructed to represent the Bennett family and had written to Sir John requesting answers.

"The family are incredibly distressed," he said.

"They need to know what happened. It's not a case of pinning blame but finding out the events."

Mr Khan said he had asked Sir John for an expression of apology.

Gun-shaped lighter similar to one used by Brixton man
Gun-shaped lighter similar to one used by Brixton man
"I am hoping to get a positive response as quickly as possible to find out how six shots were fired.

"If the Met lifts up barriers I think it will be very telling, showing the family and the community that it hasn't changed since the Lawrence Inquiry and is still hiding behind the fact that mistakes will not be admitted."

He said six shots seemed "unreasonable force".

A post-mortem examination was expected to be carried out on Mr Bennett on Wednesday.

The death, which is now the subject of a Police Complaints Authority (PCA) investigation, is the second fatal shooting by armed officers in less than a week.

Liverpool death

Last Thursday Andrew Kernan, a 37-year-old schizophrenic from Liverpool, was shot twice in the chest by police while armed with a sword.

On Tuesday, the PCA and senior officers attended an open meeting organised by the Community Police Consultative Group for Lambeth to discuss the repercussions of Mr Bennett's death.

Alex Owolade, of the civil rights campaign group Movement for Justice, said the community wanted action.

We can hopefully disarm the police if the community disarms itself

Molly Meacher, PCA
"We want justice and we will get it by any means necessary," he said.

Molly Meacher, of the Police Complaints Authority, insisted there would be a full investigation into the death.

"We cannot judge what has happened or who is guilty until we have an investigation. Believe me we are all committed to take this forward."

Mr Blunkett said the Home Office needed to work with senior officers to examine possible alternatives to the use of firearms and avoid similar incidents.

"We need a proportionate response to the particular nature of threat that is being offered," he said.

Separate inquiries have been launched by the police into the Brixton and Liverpool shootings.

Police want to hear from anyone who witnessed the incident in Brixton or who has information that would help the investigation. Contact 020 7326 1212.

The BBC's Emma Simpson
"There was a small but vocal protest in Brixton tonight"
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