POLICE officers acted reasonably when they shot and injured a man who pointed a gun at them, an Independent Police Complaints Commission investigation has concluded.
Evidence provided to the investigation into the non-fatal shooting of Stephen Debley supported the belief of firearms officers that they had to take action to prevent him from causing serious injury or death to themselves or others.
The independent investigation identified no conduct for any police officer, though recommendations were made to the force following the incident.
Mr Debley was shot and injured in Great Dunmow on 1 September 2015, after he made threats to kill police and pointed a gun – later found to be a replica – at officers.
The investigation looked at the circumstances surrounding the shooting of Mr Debley at Knights Row, including the police response to calls received, their actions and decisions, as well as tactics used and the rationale for their use of force.
It also set out to establish what knowledge police officers deployed to the scene had about Mr Debley prior to the incident, and whether this was considered by them during their response.
The investigation also examined the manner in which officers’ initial accounts were compiled by Essex Police during post incident procedures and whether local and national policies were followed. Recommendations have been made to the force, which have been accepted and can be found here.
A number of firearms officers attended the scene after Mr Debley contacted police, informing the force control room that he had two guns and would ‘shoot any copper’.
Mr Debley was challenged by officers who shot him with a plastic bullet, a firearm and a Taser when he refused to put his weapon down.
Mr Debley sustained a gunshot wound to his right thigh, a fractured cheekbone and swelling and bruising to his left wrist.
The firearms officer who shot Mr Debley said they had seen a gun in his right hand with a long thick barrel. They said the gun moved towards them and they believed Mr Debley was about to shoot, and so fired their weapon once.
IPCC Commissioner Mary Cunneen said: “This was a fast moving incident in which officers had to make split-second decisions. Mr Debley had made threats to kill and later pointed a gun at officers in a residential area.
“Evidence provided to the investigation supported the belief of firearms officers that they had to take action to prevent Mr Debley from causing serious injury or death to themselves or others.
“This investigation looked at this incident in full, and concluded the force should ensure its post incident procedure training accurately reflects national guidance.
“We also recommended Essex Police consider how information obtained by officers is passed to the force control room and officers at the scene of the incident, to ensure all relevant information is provided in the quickest and most appropriate form.
“I am pleased that Essex Police has accepted these recommendations.”
Mr Debley was jailed at Chelmsford Crown Court in February 2016 after pleading guilty to offences of possessing firearms with intent, affray and making threats to kill.