THE death of a South Tyneside man knocked down and killed by a police car was an accident, an inquest jury has ruled.
Vincent Gibson, 50, of Shaw Avenue, Biddick Hall, South Shields, died after he was hit by the car, answering an emergency call, as he crossed Whiteleas Way, South Shields, on January 7, 2012.
The father of two died of multiple injuries.
Mr Gibson was pronounced dead at South Tyneside District Hospital, and his death was investigated by the Independent Police Complaints Commission and Durham Constabulary.
An eight-day inquest into his death, led by South Tyneside coroner Terence Carney, concluded yesterday at the Moot Hall in Newcastle.
The jury took 47 minutes to reach a unanimous verdict.
The foreman told the court: “The deceased died from multiple injuries sustained in a road traffic incident in Whiteleas Way, South Shields, as a consequence of a collision with an emergency vehicle travelling in response to a grade-one incident. Our conclusions are accidental death.”
The hearing had earlier been told that Mr Gibson had spent the early part of the day at a football match, then returned home and went out again.
He was knocked down at about 10.30pm by a police car responding to 999 categorised as “grade one” because it was classed as representing a threat to life.
The hearing was told it related to a man threatening to kill himself.
Pc Lisa Lumley, the officer driving the car, told the hearing the vehicle was one of two dispatched to answer the 999 call.
Describing what happened in Whiteleas Way, she said she saw “sprinting legs” run out into the road and immediately began an emergency stop, but almost instantly, she heard a thud and knew there had been an impact.
She said: “There were vehicles parked on the left, and then I just saw these legs come out into the road – sprinting legs.”
The hearing also heard that the car’s black box recorder indicated its maximum speed during the journey had been 66mph.
Before the jury adjourned to make their decision, Mr Carney told them: “Overnight, myself and counsels have given some thought over the evidence and to ultimately, how this hearing should be finalised and how you should be directed as to what findings you can legally make.
“I remind you that you are the judges of the facts and that an inquest is a fact-finding exercise. It is not a fault-finding exercise.
“In law, an accident is defined as an unintended act which has an adverse physical result. I’m effectively going to say to you that that’s the final conclusion you should be reaching in this case.”
After the verdict, Mr Carney said: “That is the end of this process. It is my intention to write to those parties that I determine appropriate, to raise certain issues with them and invite their observations and comments.”
Mr Gibson’s family declined to comment after the hearing.
Finding: Accidental death