Independent Police Complaints Commission
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Man fatally shot near Portishead named

A 29-year-old man who was fatally shot by police firearms officers on Wednesday 27 September near Portishead in Somerset, has been named as Spencer Ashworth.

Mr Ashworth, whose last known address was in Portishead, was shot by Avon and Somerset Police firearms officers on the A369 Portbury Hundred shortly after 9.30am on Wednesday morning.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) is independently investigating the circumstances of Mr Ashworth’s death. Initial information indicates officers were responding to a report of a man travelling on the M5 with a handgun and that he had threatened another motorist. The IPCC has also been informed of an earlier incident where a similar report was received by West Mercia Police.

The vehicle stopped by police on the Portbury Hundred was a red Suzuki Swift, in which Mr Ashworth was travelling. We have established that authorised firearms officers (AFOs) from Avon and Somerset Police arrived in one marked police vehicle and two unmarked police vehicles.

IPCC investigators attended the scene and the post incident procedure, where police officers provided their initial accounts of the incident. The evidence indicates that a number of shots were fired by four officers.

What appears to be a non-police issue firearm found at the scene is currently subject to ballistics and forensic testing.

IPCC investigators are examining body worn video footage from a number of the AFOs. The IPCC is appealing for any other road users who may have captured any part of the incident on their dashcams or helmet cams to share it with investigators.

A post-mortem examination carried out on Thursday in the presence of an IPCC investigator found Mr Ashworth died of gunshot injuries.

The officers involved are being treated as witnesses; this will be kept under review as the investigation continues. Formal identification by Mr Ashworth’s family will take place on Tuesday.

IPCC Operations Manager Mel Evans said: “We are conducting a thorough and detailed independent investigation into the circumstances surrounding Mr Ashworth’s death. We have made positive progress and are continuing to build a detailed picture of what happened. We have made contact with Mr Ashworth’s family to offer our condolences and explain our role and will ensure they, Avon and Somerset Police and the Coroner are kept updated as the investigation continues. Our thoughts remain with all of those affected.

“If anyone witnessed events who has not yet come forward we would be grateful to hear from them.”

The IPCC received referrals from West Mercia Police and Gloucestershire Police in relation to how they dealt with information received from a member of the public prior to the incident near Portishead. The member of the public made the report to West Mercia Police. This information was then passed to Gloucestershire Police. After careful assessment the IPCC will not investigate the actions of either force. Their involvement may be considered at a later stage should further information come to light justifying an investigation. The IPCC investigation will consider the information provided by these forces to inform the sequence of events that occurred last Wednesday.

Anyone with information is asked to call 0800 029 4686 or email


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