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Westminster knifeman was lawfully killed – inquest

The incident happened near Great Scotland Yard in central London on 8 March 2020

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

Hassan Yahya, 30, was Tasered and fatally shot by police on 8 March 2020.

During the incident, a Metropolitan Police officer tried to Taser Mr Yahya in Northumberland Avenue before he moved towards Great Scotland Yard in central London.

A jury at Inner West London Coroner’s Court returned a finding on Friday that he was lawfully killed.

After the inquest concluded on Friday the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) released the findings of its investigation that were carried out in 2021.

The watchdog said the actions of the City of London Police firearms officer who shot Mr Yahya were reasonable in the circumstances, when considering the risk the officer perceived to his life.

It found no indication any officers should face disciplinary action or had committed a criminal offence.

Although no officers were found to have breached the police standards of professional behaviour following the IOPC investigation, three City of London Police officers underwent the reflective practice review process over failures to activate their body-worn video during the incident.

On the night Mr Yahya died, two Ministry of Defence Police officers were conducting mobile patrols in a marked police vehicle, the IOPC said.

At about 23:20 GMT the previous evening they were driving along Upper Ground, on the South Bank, and came across Mr Yahya before leaving their vehicle to speak to him, thinking he may be lost.

However, Mr Yahya produced two knives and both officers discharged their Tasers.

One of the officers activated his emergency button and officers from the Metropolitan Police and City of London Police responded to the call for assistance.

‘Numerous attempts to apprehend’

The IOPC said Mr Yahya ran away from officers over Hungerford Bridge and on to Northumberland Avenue where a Met Police officer discharged his Taser, but all the Taser discharges at this stage were ineffective.

Mr Yahya then ran on to Great Scotland Yard, where a City of London Police officer discharged his Taser and another City of London Police officer fired a single shot at 23:34 GMT which hit Mr Yahya, the IOPC continued.

The watchdog said he was placed in handcuffs and given emergency first aid by the officers but was pronounced dead at the scene at 00:16 GMT. 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,” she continued.

“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.”

IOPC investigators attended the scene and examined more than 50 witness statements from police officers and members of the public, along with medical records for Mr Yahya which showed he had been receiving treatment for mental health issues for several years.

However, the police officers who interacted with him on the night did not know about his mental health background, the IOPC added.