Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC - formerly IPCC)
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Investigation finds shot fired by officer in non-fatal shooting in Bournemouth was accidental

An investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) into a non-fatal police shooting in Bournemouth last year has found a single shot fired by a Dorset Police firearms officer, which injured a man, was accidental.

As part of a pre-planned operation to arrest a man on suspicion of an assault with a knife, armed police officers carried out a stop on a black Mercedes car on Castle Lane West in Bournemouth at around 8.20pm on 7 August 2018. The suspect was a passenger in the vehicle. During the stop an armed officer placed their hand on the handle of the driver’s door to open it, at which point the Mercedes moved off. The vehicle’s movement caused the officer to involuntarily discharge their already drawn Glock pistol through the car window, with the bullet hitting the driver in the arm. Officers began to give the injured man first aid immediately after the shooting, prior to the arrival of paramedics.

Our investigation found no indication that any police officer had committed a criminal offence, or behaved in a manner that would justify disciplinary proceedings. The officers involved were all treated as witnesses throughout the investigation.

We examined the planning for the Dorset Police operation as well as the events of the evening itself. We considered force and national policies on armed policing deployments, the detailed rationale for the arrest strategy and the steps taken by police to mitigate any risks to those involved and the public, including the location and timing of the stop. The stop was carried out at a point where no members of the public were in the immediate vicinity, and the Mercedes had slowed to a crawl close to a roundabout.

IOPC Regional Director Catrin Evans said: “The potentially lethal discharge of a weapon by a firearms officer merits our investigation. We found the police stop was planned carefully with steps taken to mitigate risks to those involved and the public. Decision-making around the stop was done in accordance with force and national policies on armed policing deployments. We are satisfied the shot fired by a Dorset Police officer into the car window was unintentional, and brought about by the Mercedes moving off.”

While no concerns were raised about the performance of the officer who fired, Dorset Police has advised that prior to returning to full firearms duties after the shooting, the officer successfully completed refresher armed response training.

At the conclusion of our independent investigation in December 2018 we communicated our findings to Dorset Police and the solicitor of the injured man. Issuing our findings publicly has awaited the outcome of any criminal proceedings concerning the driver of the Mercedes, which have now been discontinued. The man travelling as a passenger in the car, arrested on suspicion of assault causing grievous bodily harm, was found not guilty at Bournemouth Crown Court in November this year.

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