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Don't bring a cigarette lighter to a gun fight...

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Officers cleared over lighter death

Helen Pidd
Wednesday July 4, 2007


The two armed police officers who killed a man after mistaking his gun-shaped cigarette lighter for a weapon will face no disciplinary action, it was announced yesterday.

In 2001 Derek Bennett, a 29-year-old father-of-four, was shot in the back by police marksmen in Brixton, south London, as he tried to run away.

An investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) concluded there was no evidence of misconduct by the officers involved.

The court of appeal last week ruled Mr Bennett had been shot lawfully. Lord Justice Walker said shots were fired after Mr Bennett had held what the officers honestly believed was a gun to the neck of a member of the public.

Mr Bennett's family has campaigned for disciplinary action. But the IPCC commissioner, Mehmuda Mian Pritchard, said: "After considering the investigating officer's report, the inquest and subsequent legal proceedings, I have concluded there is no evidence of misconduct by the two firearms officers involved. I am acutely aware of the enormous impact this case has had on everybody concerned."

The officers, referred to as A and B, had confronted Mr Bennett on the landing of a block of flats. Officer A told the inquest Mr Bennett had grabbed a passerby - decorator John Knightly - holding the imitation pistol to his neck. He said he feared for his life and fired six shots, four of which hit Mr Bennett in the back.
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