'Armed man' was shot by police after refusing to leave taxi, says witness

A white forensic tent at the scene of a police shooting in Bishop Auckland, County Durham. Pic: PA.
A white forensic tent at the scene of a police shooting in Bishop Auckland, County Durham. Pic: PA.

Armed police shot a man through a taxi window after he failed to respond to repeated warnings to get out of the vehicle, a witness has said.

The suspect suffered an injury to his upper arm or shoulder and was taken to hospital following the incident in Bishop Auckland, County Durham, at 10.46am yesterday.

">He was later arrested after being treated in hospital and released.

Durham Police said a man was shot after officers received reports of a suspect being seen with a handgun.

Police forensics officers were at the scene, close to the Masons Arms pub in the Etherley Dene area, and a white tent has been put up next to a parked people carrier-type taxi.

A witness who was in his garden when the local taxi pulled up at temporary traffic lights said: "I saw four or five police cars come.

"Six or eight armed officers got out and they surrounded the taxi and started shouting very loudly for the passenger to get out.

"He was resisting, shouting obscenities.

"This went on for a while, there was at least six or seven times they warned him, saying 'get out of the taxi'."

The witness said: "The police were not pussy-footing around.

"They shouted, 'This is your final warning, if you don't get out we will shoot'.

"He didn't get out, and ... bang."

The witness, who did not want to be identified, said the taxi driver managed to get out of the vehicle with his hands up and fled to safety prior to the shot being fired.

The witness said the man was shot once through the taxi window, which shattered, and he was dragged out by police.

"He was writhing in agony," the local said. "But he was still effing and 'c-ing' at the police."

"They ripped his top off straight away and tended to his wound and I think there was a bit of blood, it looked as if it was his shoulder or arm."

An ambulance was called and paramedics worked on him at the scene for around 30 minutes, the local said.

The man even tried to get up off the stretcher, to the point he was warned he might have to be strapped down, the witness said.

"I could even hear him shouting in the ambulance," the resident said.

The incident came as a huge shock to people living on the quiet suburban estate.

The witness said: "At the time everything happened so quickly, but about 10 minutes later when I was giving details to a police officer I could feel my heart beating.

"I was so close to the incident."

Durham Police said the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) will investigate the circumstances of the shooting.

The force later confirmed that a criminal investigation has been launched following the incident.

The force also said that the man, in his 20s, had suffered injuries which are "not thought to be life-threatening".

Chief Inspector Stephen Ball said: "Obviously, this is a serious incident and the public would rightly expect a thorough investigation.

"We are fully co-operating with the Independent Office for Police Conduct.

"We believe this to be an isolated incident and we would like to reassure residents that there is no wider threat to the public."

A spokesman for the force said the investigation had been launched in relation to "the incident as a whole", rather than a specific person.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct has confirmed it has started an investigation.

IOPC regional director Miranda Biddle said: "Our investigators have visited the scene and attended the post-incident procedures.

"What we do know, at this time, is that the man was in possession of what appeared to be a firearm when he was stopped by police; a police officer fired their weapon, the man was injured and treated in hospital.

"What appears to be a non-police issue firearm was recovered from the scene.

"We will now begin the process of looking at the circumstances of the shooting. Over the coming days we will identify key evidence, such as if there is any body worn video of the incident.

"We will also be analysing the initial accounts from the officers involved and we welcome their co-operation."