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Wednesday, 18 July, 2001, 14:13 GMT 15:13 UK
Shot man was 'lovely, friendly person'
Police search scene
A gun-shaped cigarette lighter was found at the scene
The parents of a man shot dead by police while carrying a gun-shaped cigarette lighter have said their son was a "lovely, friendly person".

Derek Bennett's parents said they were "saddened, angry, hurt and confused" after he was shot dead in Brixton, south London on Monday afternoon by police.

Ernest and Violet Bennett want Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir John Stevens to apologise and tell them why their son was shot six times.

We want a full explanation from the authorities and an immediate apology

Ernest and Violet Bennett
Dead man's parents
In a statement read by the family's solicitor Imran Khan, the Bennetts said: "We are saddened, angry, hurt, and confused as to why our son was shot by the police.

"Our son has left four young children who he loved dearly.

"He left three sisters and five brothers who loved him dearly.

'Full explanation'

"He was a lovely, friendly person who was the life and soul of our family.

"We want to know how this happened, why it happened and who is responsible.

Gun-shaped lighter similar to one used by Brixton man
Gun-shaped lighter similar to one used by Brixton man
"We want a full explanation from the authorities and an immediate apology."

Home Secretary David Blunkett has said police chiefs would look at different ways of tackling dangerous situations following his death.

Community groups who met police in south London on Tuesday have demanded the armed officers responsible be "brought to justice".

Mr Khan, who represented the family of murdered black teenager Stephen Lawrence, said six shots seemed "unreasonable force".

Second shooting

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.

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.

Possible alternatives

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

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.

The family of Harry Stanley - who was shot dead by police as he walked home carrying a plastic bag with a chair leg inside - are still campaigning two years after his death.

Mr Stanley was shot dead by police in Hackney, east London in September 1999 but the Crown Prosecution Service has decided not to prosecute the officers who killed him.

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

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