Police believed man shot in South Shields street by officers was 'massive threat' to public safety, inquest told

A police officer has spoken of the moment he shot an armed man who later died from his injuries.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 22nd November 2018, 1:55 pm
Updated Thursday, 22nd November 2018, 2:04 pm
Police in Frenchman's Way, South Shields.

Firearms officer PC John Shield shot James Carlo Wilson with a baton round as Mr Wilson threatened him with a gun.

The baton round had no effect on Mr Wilson, who was fatally wounded with a rifle bullet fired five seconds later by PC Perry Lisle, an inquest heard.

James Carlo Wilson was shot by police in South Shields.

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Police became aware Mr Wilson was in Frenchman's Way, South Shields, with a gun when he rang 999 just after 1am.

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They initially thought the call might be a hoax, but established within a few minutes it was Mr Wilson who was making the call about himself.

Chief Inspector David Guthrie, commanding the incident from Northumbria Police headquarters at Ponteland, instructed the two armed response vehicles on duty to head to Frenchman's Way.

Floral tributes to James Carlo Wilson.

Chf Insp Guthrie gave his officers "firearms authority" during their journey.

Speaking at the inquest, PC Shield said: "We were in Newcastle city centre.

"I was driving, PC Lisle was in the passenger's seat. The information we had was the man was armed and was making threats and refusing to put the weapon down.

"We were instructed to challenge him from cover, using our police vehicle or something at the scene such as a wall, as cover.

The street in South Shields where Mr Wilson was shot.

"PC Lisle and I decided I would use the baton weapon and he would use the rifle, both of which we removed from the safe in the armed response vehicle.

"We also put our protective equipment on, including our ballistic helmets.

"When we pulled into the street I could see James, so I stopped the car about 30m from him."

The inquest heard recordings of both officers telling Mr Wilson to drop the weapon seven times.

"He was not complying," said PC Shield.

"At one point he stepped off the kerb and moved towards us, as if trying to close us down.

"He levelled the gun, pointing it at us, appearing to sight along the barrel.

"He was challenged again, he continued to point the weapon, so I deployed the baton launcher.

"I hoped it would dissuade him from what he was doing, but he didn't drop the gun, there was a verbal response but I couldn't hear what that was.

"As I was reloading the baton launcher, I became aware that PC Lisle had discharged his weapon.

"It takes about five seconds to reload the launcher. I went to give James first aid."

PC Shields said he believed Mr Wilson posed a "massive threat" to the safety of police and the public.

He added: "I believe our response was reasonable and proportionate."

Under cross-examination from Sam Faulks, for Mr Wilson's family, PC Shield conceded the dashcam footage from the police car did not appear to show Mr Wilson raising the gun a second time.

"There was hand movement, it's not clear," said PC Shield.

Mr Faulks told the officer there was no criticism by Mr Wilson's mother of his actions in discharging the baton launcher.

Under questioning from John Beggs QC, for Northumbria Police, PC Shield said: "When I pulled the trigger I thought either myself or PC Lisle was going to be shot.

"I'd never been in that situation before."

The inquest heard Mr Wilson 24, died in hospital three days after the shooting in the early hours of March 29, 2016.

The gun was later identified as a Walther air pistol, described as a "convincing replica" of a real pistol.

A ballistics expert found the air pistol was faulty, and a pellet fired from it would have been unlikely to pierce the skin.

The inquest at Mansion House in Jesmond is proceeding.