Anthony Grainger shooting: Judge criticises Greater Manchester Police

media captionAnthony Grainger's partner Gail Hadfield-Grainger said his death "could and should have been prevented"

A police force was to blame for the fatal shooting of an unarmed man, a public inquiry has concluded.

Anthony Grainger, 36, was in a stolen car when he was shot in the chest in Cheshire in March 2012.

A judge said the shooting was legally justified, but criticised senior officers at Greater Manchester Police (GMP) for a "catastrophic series of failings and errors".

The force said it believed Mr Grainger was planning an armed robbery.

But Judge Thomas Teague QC said an operation targeting Mr Grainger had been organised and planned "incompetently".

Senior officers "failed to authorise, plan or conduct the firearms operation in such a way as to minimise recourse to the use of lethal force", the judge said.

'Litany of failures'

Mr Grainger's partner Gail Hadfield-Grainger said "it has taken seven years but some justice has been done for Anthony" and the inquiry had shown his death "could and should have been prevented".

She said the report highlighted "a litany of catastrophic failures".

Mr Grainger's mother Marina Schofield said his "devastated" family had "gone through hell to find out the true facts of what happened that night".

She also called for "lessons to be learned", adding: "We only hope that this outcome serves as a lesson for GMP so that others do not have to go through what we have suffered."

image source, PA
image captionMr Grainger was shot dead in Cheshire in 2012

Mr Grainger, from Bolton, was shot through the windscreen of a stolen Audi in a car park in Culcheth on 3 March.

The inquiry was told no firearms were found either on Mr Grainger or in the car.

The officer who shot him told the inquiry at Liverpool Crown Court in 2017 he fired as he thought Mr Grainger had reached down to pick up a firearm.

The judge said the officer, referred to in court as Q9, had not acted unlawfully because he "honestly but mistakenly believed Mr Grainger was reaching for a gun".

He jumped to that wrong conclusion because of the "misleading way his superiors had briefed him beforehand", according to Judge Teague.

GMP Chief Constable Ian Hopkins said he would like to "personally apologise" to Mr Grainger's family for the "significant organisational failings of GMP that have led the inquiry to conclude that GMP are to blame for the death of Anthony Grainger".

He said the "intention of GMP through the Operation Shire investigation was to protect the public from harm and our failings have led to Anthony Grainger's death and caused unimaginable harm to his family".

Mr Hopkins said steps had already been taken to improve the safety of firearms operations since the death, but said the force would now study the report and discuss what action should be taken with the police watchdog.

image source, GMP
image captionMr Grainger was shot dead in a stolen Audi in a car park in Culcheth

The inquiry was told Mr Grainger and one of his passengers, David Totton, had been the subject of a GMP operation - Operation Shire - for some weeks, which was investigating their suspected involvement in commercial robberies.

But Judge Teague said there was no intelligence to suggest the men were armed or had access to firearms on 3 March.

The judge said if firearms commanders had planned, briefed and conducted the deployment competently, Q9 "would have been less likely to misinterpret Mr Grainger's actions and might not have shot him".

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