Josh Pitt inquest - police chief says officers battled to save his life after Luton shooting

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Armed police were justified in shooting a knife wielding man who had been holding his fiancee hostage in Luton, an inquest has ruled.

Josh Pitt, from Leighton Buzzard, died in hospital after the incident on November 9, 2016.

A jury at his inquest in Amptill, today found Josh had been lawfully killed, after hearing how he had repeatedly threatened to harm his fiancee, who said she was trapped in the flat, himself and police.

Armed police had stormed the flat in Trinity Court, Luton, after a harrowing 999 call from fiancee Kathryn Moore.

Deputy Chief Constable Garry Forsyth said: “Following today’s inquest conclusion of lawful killing our thoughts are first and foremost with the family and friends of Mr Pitt, at what must be an incredibly distressing time for them.

“On the day of this tragic incident officers knew Mr Pitt was armed with knives and was effectively holding his partner hostage, threatening to harm her and himself.

“The officers repeatedly requested for Mr Pitt to put down his weapons, but he refused and continued to move towards them. A Taser was discharged but unfortunately was not effective due to it not making a connection. Therefore, to prevent an imminent risk to life an armed officer took the difficult decision to deploy their firearm.

“Following the shot, the officers on scene battled to give Mr Pitt first aid in a bid to save his life.

“Firearms officers have an exceptionally difficult job and their specialist skills mean they are often faced with extremely dangerous situations when there is a threat to the life of others and themselves. While discharging a firearm will always be a last resort for officers, they are highly trained to make split-second decisions in order to protect the public and their colleagues.

“While our firearms officers volunteer to take on the additional responsibility of carrying a firearm we cannot underestimate the impact incidents like these will have on them. It is vital that such incidents are independently investigated – as it was in this case by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) which found there was no indication at any stage of the investigation that firearms officers breached the standards of professional behaviour.

“We remain grateful to all of our officers who regularly risk their own lives to protect others and the officers involved in this tragic case for the professionalism and bravery they demonstrated throughout.”

A spokesman for the Police fFederation who represented the two armed officers said: “Our members attend incidents every day never knowing what danger they will face and we thank them for doing their job so professionally.

“PC Matt Edwards and PC Start Thompson went to work that day to do their job. No armed officer ever wants to have to make that split second decision to have to use lethal force; they attended to save someone’s life and put themselves in harms way to do so and we are proud to represent them.”