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Ann Sanderson inquest returns verdict of lawful killing

Kent Police
Kent Police

by Luke Hollands

A woman shot dead by a Kent Police firearms officer was lawfully killed - but a raft of shortcomings was highlighted by the coroner.

Ann Sanderson, 37, was killed by a single shot to the right side of her chest as she brandished an airgun at police.

But Kent Police failed to react to the incident properly by not sending a trained negotiator to the scene quick enough and not sealing it off, North West Kent coroner Roger Hatch said.

As a result, the court heard a milkman drove past on a float in Sevenoaks High Street, Sevenoaks, in full view of the deceased.

The coroner has issued a list of recommendations to the Association of Chief Police Officers on how forces should handle similar incidents.

He said police forces should be reminded of the importance of the "early use of train negotiators, particularly where the subject may have taken alcohol or drugs or may be emotionally or mentallly distressed".

Audio: Solicitor Tony Murphy for Ann 'Tosh' Sanderson's partner Tracy Sumner

He also recommended that further guidance and training is given to officers before the "lethal option" is deployed.

And Mr Hatch said not enough was done to close off the scene.

He went on: "Roads were not closed off and at one point, over an hour after the deceased had first been identified in possession of what appeared to be a handgun, a milk float was able to drive down Sevenoaks High Street in full view of the deceased."

The shooting happened on June 11, 2007.

Gravesend Coroner's Court heard Ms Sanderson was seen drinking from a beer bottle, and taking tablets whilst pointing an airgun at cameras in the town centre at 1.20am.

In a statement released after the verdict, Kent Police's Assistant Chief Constable Andy Adams said: "It is always very sad when incidents like this happen.

"There is a devastating effect on the family of the person shot, and a huge impact on the officers involved and their families.

"Every death as a result of a police shooting is deeply regrettable, however Kent Police is committed to serving and protecting the people of Kent.

"Officers who command firearms incidents and those who undertake responsibility to carry firearms are highly trained and professional, and have to make critical operational judgements decisively.

"In the interests of protecting the public, firearms officers voluntarily put their lives on the line in critical situations.

"Officers are prepared and have a duty to stand between suspected armed individuals and the public.

"We must ensure they can act according to their training, and in compliance of the law.

"In any situation where officers make a decision to carry out an armed response, it is because a real and immediate danger to the lives of members of the public or police officers has been identified."

Speaking on behalf of Ann Sanderson's partner, Tracy Sumner, Tony Murphy of Bhatt Murphy solicitors said: "Tracey remains of a view that Tosh's death was avoidable. My client hopes lessons will be learned from Tosh's death."

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