Police who shot man in Swindon 'acted proportionately'

  • The scene of the shooting in June last year.

The non-fatal shooting of a man by police in Swindon has been ruled as 'necessary' and 'proportionate', according to a police watchdog.

Howard Jones was shot in the leg by an armed police officer on 16 June last year.

Before he was shot, he deliberately fired at officers - hitting one in the face. Thankfully the officer involved suffered only minor injuries.

The incident unfolded after a lorry was stolen at gunpoint. Firearms officers were deployed to Ridge Green and intercepted the lorry driver - Jones - in the Rivermead Industrial Estate, Westlea.

Evidence shows officers verbally challenged the man and saw he had a weapon, which after later testing was found to be an air pistol. Officers approached the man at gunpoint, standing either side of the stolen lorry.

During the incident officers discharged Taser twice. The man raised his weapon towards one of the officers and fired, hitting an officer in the face with a ball bearing.

After the man raised his weapon, the other officer fired a single shot which struck the man in the thigh. Officers placed the man on the ground and immediately began providing first aid before paramedics arrived and took him to hospital.   

Due to the fact a police firearm was discharged during the incident, the matter was automatically referred to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).

The man was shot after he deliberately fired at police officers. Credit: ITV

The investigation found there were no concerns about the policing response to the incident.The IOPC have not only determined there were no criminal, misconduct or performance matters identified for the police officers and staff involved, but that there is also no requirement for any organisational learning.Wiltshire Police's Assistant Chief Constable Deb Smith welcomed the findings and praised all the officers and staff for the way they handled a challenging situation.She said: “The armed officers who responded that evening showed bravery and professionalism during a fast-moving and potentially dangerous incident, and I would like to commend them for their actions.“It is thanks to their restraint and quick-thinking that nobody, including Jones, was seriously injured and I know the people of Swindon will join me in thanking them for their dedicated public service.

Investigations are the scene. Credit: ITV

“Police officers, particularly firearms officers, often have to make split-second decisions in a bid to protect the wider public and keep people safe, and the IOPC investigation highlights the challenges they face and the professionalism they show.“I would also like to praise all the officers and staff involved in responding to the incident on the night, as well as the detectives who have worked tirelessly on this case.“This matter caused considerable anxiety within the town but I hope that now the full facts can be reported, they will have a better understanding of the chain of events on the evening of June 16.”

Police and Crime Commissioner Angus Macpherson said: “Everyone involved, but particularly the firearms officers, have shown huge professionalism and dedication and are a credit to Wiltshire Police. I thank them for their service.”He added: “I hope these findings provide some context to fully explain the events of June 16, as well as some reassurance for the local community about the policing response and the actions of the officers involved.”Jones has since pleaded guilty to a string of offences, including blackmail, possession of an imitation firearm, robbery and assaults on two police officers, and is due to be sentenced later this month.

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