West Yorkshire Police’s chief constable has said shooting Yassar Yaqub dead on a slip road of the M62 was “necessary to keep the public safe” during a “rapidly unfolding and dangerous situation”.
A jury inquest today concluded that Mr Yaqub was lawfully killed. The 28-year-old was the front passenger in an Audi travelling in convoy with a white Scirocco on the M62 on January 2, 2017, when four unmarked police vehicles surrounded them at Ainley Top, a six-week-long inquest heard.
After the stop, Mr Yaqub ignored a command to “show me your hands” and instead “crouched down” before raising a handgun over the car’s dashboard, an officer told the jury at Leeds Crown Court. The officer, identified only as V39, said he leaned out of his car window and fired three shots at Mr Yaqub from 1.5 metres away, with two bullets hitting him in the chest and causing “catastrophic blood loss”.
V39 said he had feared for his life and “had no alternative”. In its conclusion on Wednesday, the jury said V39 “honestly believed that a firearm was being aimed at him, his life was in danger and he used reasonable force discharging his firearm”.
Following the verdict, West Yorkshire Police’s Chief Constable John Robins QPM DL, released a lengthy statement in which he offered the force’s sympathies to the Yaqub family but said that the shooting was necessary to keep the public safe. Chief Cons Robins said the past six years since Mr Yaqub’s shooting have also been ‘difficult’ for the officers and staff directly involved.
He said the sole intention of the force at the time was to “safely detain Mr Yaqub and to remove illegally held firearms from our streets” but added that events “rapidly unfolded” meaning officers had to “take the necessary and proportionate action.”
Chief Cons Robins said: “The loss of life in any circumstances is, of course, tragic and our sympathies remain with the Yaqub family for the loss of their loved one. But I also want to acknowledge how difficult the past five to six years have also been for the officers and staff who were directly involved.
“This has been a constant in their lives, from the incident itself, the criminal prosecutions, the investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct and finally the recent inquest itself. During the IOPC investigation, officers and staff were rightly treated as witnesses throughout.
“The outcome of that investigation did not raise any criminal or misconduct issues for any officers or staff. During the inquest, I followed the daily proceedings. My overwhelming impression was of the professionalism, knowledge, expertise and compassion displayed by all the officers and staff involved.
“I hope that people will now see that the tragic loss of life, unfortunate as it was, was necessary to keep the public safe in what was a rapidly unfolding and dangerous situation.
“It is thankfully rare that any police action results in the death of an individual. When it does, it is right that we are open to full scrutiny, just as in this case. The actions of all involved have been scrutinised by both the IOPC and now by a Jury before a Coroner.
“The inquest has provided a clear and transparent understanding of what happened. Our sole intention was to safely detain Mr Yaqub and to remove illegally held firearms from our streets. However, as events rapidly unfolded, it is obvious that the threat at the time was real and as a result an officer had to take the necessary and proportionate action.
“Firearms officers perform a highly skilled and incredibly demanding role. They are brave and courageous people, who keep us all safe. I believe the individuals who make up West Yorkshire Police’s firearms teams are among the best in the world.
“It is a job that carries a huge responsibility and sometimes means making the hardest of all decisions. Police officers and staff face dangers every day to keep the public safe.
“I am proud of them and the work they do. But they can only do it with the support and understanding of all of the communities we serve and I remain committed to policing being professional, open and transparent.
“So, I hope that the inquest has helped explain in detail what occurred in the lead up to the death of Mr Yaqub.”
Mr Yaqub was described by police intelligence as a “highly active criminal”, the jury heard during the inquest, with an operation set up in October 2016 in response to alleged threats he and another man had been making. He was being followed by police following a meeting with his associates at Akbar’s Café in Bradford.
This content was originally published here.