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Last Updated: Friday, 12 May 2006, 05:40 GMT 06:40 UK
Checkpoint death 'self defence'
Shooting scene
The police shot dead Steven Colwell at a checkpoint
A policeman who shot dead a man driving a stolen car in County Down believed his life was in imminent danger, he has told the police ombudsman's office.

Steven Colwell, 23, was shot by an officer at a checkpoint just outside the police station in Church Street in Ballynahinch on Easter Sunday.

The BBC has also learned that passengers in the rear of the car narrowly escaped being shot as well.

It is understood the officer thought the car was being driven at him.

The officer, who has more than 10 years' experience, has said he fired directly through the windscreen, it is believed.

However, it is also understood the ombudsman's team believe one of the two rounds fired came through the window on the driver's side.

It has also emerged that the person sitting directly behind Mr Colwell narrowly escaped being shot.


At least one bullet was found in the car boot, having passed through both the drivers and rear passenger seats.

Police fired a number of shots at the stolen car containing six people after they apparently refused to stop at a checkpoint.

Mr Colwell had an address in Main Street, Cullybackey, but was originally from Belfast.

Three men and two women who were also in the car have been released on bail and have been questioned by the ombudsman.

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