- Video report by ITV News Correspondent Damon Green
The chief constable of Greater Manchester Police has personally apologised to the family of a father-of-two after a public inquiry found an incompetent armed surveillance operation was to blame for his death.
A report into the death of unarmed Anthony Grainger, 36, in a car park in Culcheth, Cheshire, in March 2012 exposed "serious deficiencies" in the planning and conduct of the operation by senior officers.
The 36-year-old father of two, from Bolton, was behind the wheel of a stolen Audi when a Greater Manchester Police (GMP) officer, referred to in court as Q9, fired his Heckler & Koch MP5 submachine gun.
Following the report's publication on Thursday, chief constable Ian Hopkins said: "The intention of Greater Manchester Police through the Operation Shire investigation was to prevent harm to the public.
"Our failings have led to Anthony Grainger's death and caused unimaginable harm to his family.
"For that I am sincerely sorry."
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.
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.”
Mr Hopkins said he would like to personally apologise to Anthony Grainger's two children, to his mother Marina Schofield, his partner Gail Hadfield-Grainger and his wider family for the "significant organisational failings of Greater Manchester Police".
He added: "We will now study the report in detail and discuss with the Independent Office for Police Conduct what further action may be necessary in response to the chairman's conclusions.
"We have already taken steps to improve the safety of firearms operations following Mr Grainger's death in March 2012.
"We will consider the recommendations to identify any further additional measures that are required to improve the safety of our firearms operations."
A GMP spokeswoman said: "The force, our commanders and our officers do not set out on any policing operation with the intention of firearms being discharged.
"This case was no different and the safety of the public, the subjects of police operations and our officers is, and remains, our absolute priority.
"That being said, we undertake to consider each and every one of the chairman's findings and criticisms with the utmost care, attention and reflection.
"It is what the public would expect GMP to do in circumstances where criticisms have been made of the planning and preparation of a police operation in which a young man lost his life. It is what GMP will do."