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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Tasers fired at gunman Raoul Moat 'not approved'

July 14, 2010
BBC News

The Taser stun guns used by officers attempting to stop gunman Raoul Moat from killing himself did not have Home Office approval, it has emerged.

An inquest into the 37-year-old's death heard two officers from West Yorkshire police fired the stun guns at him.

The XREP Tasers used are still undergoing tests however the government has said forces have discretion to use any equipment they deem necessary.

Moat died after a six-hour stand-off in Rothbury, Northumberland, on Saturday.

Details of the use of the Tasers were revealed during the opening of the inquest into Moat's death. The inquest was later adjourned.

A spokesperson for West Yorkshire Police said the officers involved have not been suspended from firearms duties and have returned to work.

Newcastle coroner David Mitford said Moat died as a result of a gunshot wound to the head.

Code of practice

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) said in a statement that officers had used a long range XREP Taser - which has a range of about 100ft (30m) and operates without wires.

A Home Office spokesman said the XREP Tasers were "currently subject to testing by the HOSDB (Home Office Scientific Development Branch)".

He added: "However, legally, police forces have discretion to use any equipment they see fit as long as the use of force is lawful, reasonable and proportionate.

"The process for approval of less lethal weapons is set out in a Home Office code of practice document on police use of firearms which chief constables must 'have regard to'."

It is not clear whether the Tasers were fired before or after Moat apparently shot himself, Independent Police Complaints Commission investigator Steve Reynolds told the hearing at Newcastle Civic Centre.

He said: "At 1.12am Mr Moat's shotgun discharged, resulting in him receiving fatal injuries.

"At some point around the time of the fatal shot two West Yorkshire firearms officers armed with Tasers discharged their weapons at Mr Moat.

"This was understood to have been in an effort to prevent Mr Moat taking his own life."


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