Tue, Jul 13, 2010 - Page 6 News List

UK police under investigation for fugitive’s death

AFP , LONDON

Police were being investigated yesterday after one of Britain’s biggest ever manhunts ended in the fugitive shooting himself dead, as his brother compared the man’s final moments to a “public execution.”

Raoul Moat went on the run last weekend, wanted over a series of shootings. He managed to evade hundreds of police hunting him for seven days, but was finally caught in the picturesque village of Rothbury in northeast England.

The probe by the Independent Police Complaints Commission is expected to focus on whether the firing of stun guns by police at Moat during a dramatic standoff prompted him to discharge a sawn-off shotgun into his own head.

His brother, Angus Moat, described his horror at the public nature of the fugitive’s showdown with police, which was followed live by television networks.

“It was a public execution,” the 39-year-old told the BBC. “I’m probably the only person who has ever watched his brother die on live national television in the United Kingdom.

“It was horrific, it was like something out of the French Revolution,” he said.

He also criticized police, who he said refused to let him try and talk to his brother.

“I was willing to walk into the cordon with no flak jacket and try to talk to Raoul to calm him down,” he said.

“But the police told me that sending me in could make the situation more volatile,” he said.

The fugitive, a 37-year-old former nightclub bouncer, took his own life early on Saturday despite the efforts of a specialist negotiator to persuade him to surrender.

He was wanted for the fatal shooting of his ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend and gun attacks on her and a policeman. Video of his final moments released on Sunday by the News of the World tabloid showed Raoul Moat sitting cross-legged close to the banks of the river, holding a shotgun pressed up to his chin as heavily armed police surround him.

His brother also said he believed that the police’s decision to fire 50,000-volt Taser guns at Raoul Moat may have prompted him to shoot himself in a dramatic end to the standoff.

“I’m thinking — you discharge a Taser on a man who is soaked to the skin, in a rainstorm, who has got a gun pointed at his head, with his finger on the trigger?” Angus Moat asked.

“He’s going to go into muscle spasm and there’s going to be an involuntary reaction in every muscle in his body including his finger muscles, which are on the trigger of the gun,” Angus Moat said.

“He’s going to have an involuntary reaction and pull the trigger, and he’s going to die and he might not necessarily have ever wanted to,” Angus Moat said.

In a news conference on Saturday, Sue Sim, the temporary chief of Northumbria Police, admitted in a prepared statement that police “discharged Taser.”

Her refusal to answer questions prompted speculation over when the Tasers were fired and whether their use played any part in Raoul Moat’s decision to pull the trigger.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission later confirmed two Tasers were used by separate officers.

The commission was already probing why police failed to heed warnings from prison authorities that Raoul Moat would pose a potential threat to his former partner, Samantha Stobbart, when he left prison after serving an 18-week sentence for assault.

Soon after being freed, Raoul Moat shot and wounded Stobbart, who is also the mother of one of his children, killed her boyfriend, and shot and seriously injured a policeman near the city of Newcastle.

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