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Investigation into fatal police shooting of Spencer Ashworth near Portishead complete

Spencer Ashworth was shot dead by armed police. Credit: SWNS

The police watchdog's investigation into the fatal shooting of a man on a main road near Bristol is now complete.

Spencer Ashworth was shot dead on the Portbury Hundred outside Portishead on September 27, 2017.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) opened their inquiry into the incident almost immediately afterwards and kept the main road between Portishead and the M5 motorway closed for several days while they examined the scene.

On the day of the shooting, police were responding to reports that a man had wielded a handgun and threatened other motorists while driving south on the M5 from the Midlands.

The scene on the Portbury Hundred, following Mr Ashworth's death. Credit: ITV News

Police stopped Mr Ashworth’s vehicle, a red Suzuki Swift, on the Portbury Hundred near junction 19 of the M5.

Shots are believed to have been fired by four authorised firearms officers from Avon and Somerset Constabulary, the IOPC previously said.

Reports at the time suggested Mr Ashworth was chased off the motorway by police before he was shot through the passenger side window, while pictures from the scene showed the target vehicle riddled with bullet holes – including through the rear windscreen.

Within days of his death, the IOPC dropped its investigation into the conduct of two other forces - West Mercia and Gloucestershire - and concentrated its efforts on Avon and Somerset Police.

Mr Ashworth's car following the shooting. Credit: ITV News

The regional head of the police watchdog said all of the firearms officers had been ‘treated as witnesses throughout’ their investigations and that body-worn camera footage formed a key part of the inquiry.

The investigation was still ongoing a year after Mr Ashworth's death after 'new information' caused a delay.

Today (February 11) - almost a year and a half since Mr Ashworth was shot - the IOPC confirmed it had completed its investigation.

The location of the shooting on the Portbury Hundred, near Portishead. Credit: ITV News West Country

However, its findings will not be published until they form part of the inquest hearing into Mr Ashworth’s death- a date for which has not been set.

The inquest was opened at Avon Coroners Court on October 18, 2017, only to confirm his identity.

Mr Ashworth had no fixed address, although his last known address was in Portishead.

It is understood a date for the inquest will be set in the next few weeks.

An IOPC spokesperson said: “Our investigation is now complete and we await the inquest before issuing our findings."