Page last updated at 19:35 GMT, Thursday, 25 March 2010

Shot Greater Manchester Pc 'killed unlawfully'

Pc Ian Terry

A police officer who was shot by a colleague during a "cops and robbers" training exercise was unlawfully killed, an inquest has found.

Pc Ian Terry, 32, was killed as Greater Manchester Police's firearms unit practised in a disused factory in 2008.

His colleague, a firearms officer known as "Chris", shot Pc Terry, of Burnley, as he pretended to be a suspect.

The jurors at Manchester Coroner's Court were critical of the firearms unit and its training regime.

Their verdict of unlawful killing relates to both Pc Terry's death and the planning and conduct of the exercise.

Pc Terry's family said they were "appalled and upset" by the evidence heard at the inquest.

They said they were disappointed "at the conduct of a number of officers who Ian regarded as friends, in their reluctance to accept any responsibility for their actions".

"The officer with the shotgun ultimately caused Ian's death but we firmly believe that there were many fingers on the trigger," they said.

Ian Terry's father Ron: ''There were many fingers on the trigger''

Greater Manchester Police Chief Constable Peter Fahy, who was in court for the verdict, apologised to Pc Terry's family "for GMP's failure to keep him safe".

The officer was not wearing body armour when he was hit in the chest by specialist ammunition called Round Irritant Personnel (RIP).

Chris was a front seat passenger in one of three unmarked cars which were tracking a suspect vehicle, in which Pc Terry was a passenger.

Chris's job was to put his gun against the suspect car's wheels and shoot out the tyres.

Other officers were carrying weapons which were only armed with paint balls.

As officers converged on the suspects, Chris, who had at some point taken off the safety catch on his gun, acted "instinctively" and pulled the trigger on his pump action 12-bore shotgun, he told the inquest.

The scene of the shooting in Newton Heath
About 20 officers were involved in the fatal training exercise

Chris, who is still a serving police officer, but now on restricted duties, said he was not aware of pulling the trigger but was conscious of the fact that he was engaged in a training exercise.

He also agreed that in releasing the safety catch on his shotgun before being ready to fire he broke the "golden rule".

Pc Terry was pronounced dead in hospital following the incident in Newton Heath on 9 June 2008.

The jurors ruled that the "culture and practice" of GMP's firearms training unit was "inappropriate" in its "systems and practices" dealing with risk assessments and general preparations and this played a part in Pc Terry's death.

They also said it was "unsafe" to use RIP rounds and agreed that Pc Terry "would have been saved" if a training package had been properly prepared.

I accept that some of our systems and practices were inappropriate and did play a part in Ian's death
Chief Constable Peter Fahy
Greater Manchester Police

At the time of Pc Terry's death the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said there was "insufficient evidence" to prosecute Chris or GMP in the criminal courts.

Pc Terry's death led to a "thorough investigation" by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC). It said the results of that investigation would not be released until the CPS and the Health and Safety Executive had made their findings public.

Nine other officers are on restricted duties following Pc Terry's death.

IPCC commissioner Naseem Malik said its investigation "identified clear issues" for firearms training for police forces nationally.

Nigel Meadows, coroner for Manchester, said a copy of the inquest proceedings would be sent to the CPS.

He paid tribute to Pc Terry's family, adding: "This has been a long time since Ian's death but I hope that the inquest will be a significant step along the way of the grieving process.

"Sadly, I do not think it will be the end."

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