Police chiefs accused over unarmed man’s killing by firearms officer

A police officer might not have shot dead an unarmed man if senior commanders had competently organised a firearms deployment, a public inquiry has found.

Father-of-two Anthony Grainger, 36, from Bolton, was behind the wheel of a stolen Audi in Culcheth, Cheshire, when a Greater Manchester Police (GMP) officer, referred to in court as Q9, fired his Heckler & Koch MP5 submachine gun.

Anthony Grainger’s mother Marina speaks to the media outside Liverpool Crown Court
Anthony Grainger’s mother Marina speaks to the media outside Liverpool Crown Court (Peter Byrne/PA)

During 15 weeks of evidence in 2017, Q9 told Liverpool Crown Court from behind a screen that he believed Mr Grainger had reached down as if to grab a firearm.

But the inquiry heard that no firearms were found on Mr Grainger or in the stationary vehicle in n a public car park off Jackson Avenue in the early evening of March 3 2012.

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

Anthony Grainger inquiry
Inquiry chairman Judge Thomas Teague QC (Peter Byrne/PA)

In his report, Judge Thomas Teague QC concluded: “Q9 shot Mr Grainger in the honestly held belief that he was reaching for a firearm with the intention of discharging it at Q9’s colleagues. That belief was, however, incorrect.

“When Mr Grainger disobeyed Q9’s instruction to show his hands, he was probably reaching for the driver’s door handle in order to get out of the Audi.

“Had GMP’s firearms commanders adopted disruption as a tactical option, as they should have done, they would have avoided the risks occasioned by decisive intervention.

“Had they 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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