Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Review into Police Shooting of Lawyer

This case is tragic. In May Mark Saunders a successful lawyer was shot dead by police marksmen after repeatedly firing a shotgun into the street. The link is to the BBC report. On first sight the shooting seems to be entirely justified and in my opinion still is however tragic and regrettable the outcome. However a judicial review is under way to challenge the notion that Police Officers can confer with one another before making statements to the independent body that investigates matters such as these. That is a fair point and one I hope the court will look at fairly before judgement. Really that should be the end of the matter and the story should be over. However the BBC's Radio 4 'Today' programme carried an interview with Charlotte Saunders (sister of the deceased) in which she implied that the Police murdered her brother. Doubtless the Saunder's family have suffered a terrible bereavement but airing such opinions will not help matters. What has really concerned me however is the way Barry Humphrey's who interviewed Charlotte Saunders for today allowed such severe allegations to go unanswered.

Ms Saunders stated repeatedly here, that when the police opened fire her brother posed no threat to anyone as the police had evacuated the area. Incredibly Humphreys did not point out to her that maybe just maybe the officers present were in danger themselves when this man was shooting at them. The other very serious allegation that Ms Saunders made was that the Police did not try out any alternatives to the use of lethal force when her brother was cornered. In fairness Humphreys reiterated to her that her brother was armed. However Ms Saunders felt that the police with their training and equipment could have disarmed Mark Saunders. That is disarm an individual who was armed, opened fire and ignored repeated requests to surrender and put down his weapon. As Saunders was inside a building and tasers etc will not work through glass or at a distance the only form of action available was to return fire. It is likely that had the police stormed the building in which Saunders was holed up he would have shot at them and killed or injured them. He had already opened fire this signalling his intent. This story is tragic but the police did all that was required of them in this sad episode. They did not murder Mark Saunders, they shot him in self defence. If an inquest finds different I will withdraw my remarks.

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