Police 'lawfully killed' knife-carrying man in Westminster, inquest rules

A knife carrying man was shot by police in Westminster (PA)
A knife carrying man was shot by police in Westminster (PA)

A man armed with two knives who was shot dead by a City of London Police during lockdown was lawfully killed, a jury at an inquest has concluded.

A Metropolitan Police officer Tasered and then fatally shot Hassan Yahya, 30, on March 8, 2020, in Northumberland Avenue as he moved towards the force HQ Great Scotland Yard.

On Friday, a jury at the Inner West London Coroner's Court returned a verdict supporting the conclusion of the Met’s internal investigation that Yahya was lawfully killed.

After the inquest, the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) released the findings of its own 2021 investigation, which stated that the actions were “reasonable in the circumstances.”

No officers were found to have committed a crime or acted in breach of police standards but an investigation did find they failed to activate their body-worn video.

The court heard that around 11:20 pm, two Ministry of Defence Police officers approached Yahya during their night patrol, thinking he was lost, when he suddenly produced knives. One of the officers activated his emergency button, and both discharged their Tasers.

But as Yahya ran onto Hungerford Bridge, the Taser shots were ineffective, and one of the officers fired a single gunshot. The unnamed officer reportedly fired in self-defense as Yahya appeared ready to lunge with his knives.

Yahya collapsed and received emergency first aid but was declared dead at the scene at quarter past midnight. Two knives were recovered from the scene.

IOPC regional director Charmaine Arbouin said: "During the course of the officers' interactions with Mr Yahya, they made numerous attempts to apprehend him using non-lethal force - including multiple discharges of Taser over a five-minute period, which proved ineffective."

"The officer who shot Mr Yahya said he feared for his life as Mr Yahya moved toward him while holding two knives.

“Our investigation reviewed all available CCTV footage which showed Mr Yahya stepping towards officers, holding a knife, when he was then fatally shot.

"Based on the available evidence, we found that the decision to shoot Mr Yahya was reasonable in the circumstances, due to the threat the officer perceived to his life."

It was later discovered that Yahya had been receiving treatment for mental health issues, but this was unknown to the police at the time.