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Man pointed gun at police officer before shooting, inquest told

A silver Audi is almost totally hidden by screens at the scene near junction J24 of the M62 in Huddersfield where a man died in a police shooting during a ‘pre-planned’ operation (Peter Byrne/PA)
A silver Audi is almost totally hidden by screens at the scene near junction J24 of the M62 in Huddersfield where a man died in a police shooting during a ‘pre-planned’ operation (Peter Byrne/PA)

An armed officer who fatally shot a man during a police stop on a motorway slip road has told an inquest the suspect pointed a handgun at him before he fired.

Yassar Yaqub, 28, was the front-seat passenger in one of two cars travelling in convoy on the M62 when four unmarked police vehicles surrounded them at junction 24 in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, on January 2 2017.

An inquest at Leeds Crown Court previously heard that an officer leaned out of his car window and fired three shots at Mr Yaqub from 1.5 metres away.

Two of the bullets hit him in the chest and caused “catastrophic blood loss”, jurors were told.

On Wednesday the West Yorkshire Police officer, known as V39 to protect his identity, told the inquest he had “feared for my life and the life of my colleagues” when he shot Mr Yaqub.

V39 said Mr Yaqub had ignored his command to “show me your hands”, and instead crouched down before bringing a handgun over the dashboard.

The officer told the inquest he had “no other alternative” but to discharge his firearm, and said he “would have been shot” otherwise.

The inquest has previously heard Mr Yaqub was described by police intelligence as a “highly active criminal” and Operation Fillview was set up in October 2016 in response to intelligence showing he and another man had been “making threats” to a man called Yasser Adalat.

V39 said he had been called by tactical firearms commander Officer R just before 3pm on January 2 2017 and asked to command a Masts team (Mobile Armed Support to Surveillance Officers).

He confirmed to Tom Little KC, counsel to the inquest, he was informed “there was going to be a criminal meeting in the Bradford area and some of those attending may be in possession of firearms”.

The hearing was told V39 was the passenger in one of the four police vehicles that followed Mr Yaqub and his associates from Akbar’s Cafe in Bradford on the M62 towards Huddersfield.

The jury has previously heard Mr Yaqub was the passenger in an Audi A4 being driven by Mohsin Amin.

Behind them was a VW Scirocco containing Rexhino Arapaj and David Butlin.

V39 told the inquest they were looking to stop the cars once they got to Huddersfield.

A transcript of the radio communication between the officers shown to jurors showed that at 18.05.15, V39 said: “Strike strike strike”, ordering them to start the “enforced stop”.

He told the inquest the driver of the police vehicle he was in, known as the Alpha vehicle, overtook the Audi and Scirocco and made contact with the Audi, pushing it to the side of the road before it came to a stop.

V39 said he twisted himself out of his window and pointed his firearm into the Audi while shouting: “Armed police, show me your hands.”

The officer said the driver “immediately put his hands in the air” but the passenger did not.

M62 police shooting
Police forensics officers examine a silver Audi with bullet holes in its windscreen at the scene near junction J24 of the M62 in Huddersfield where a man died in a police shooting (Peter Byrne/PA)

“Mr Yaqub leaned down towards a footwell and I would describe the motion as crouching towards the driver,” V39 said.

“I repeated my challenge: ‘Armed police, show me your hands’.”

The officer said Mr Yaqub did not show his hands but “briefly looked up and then looked back down”.

V39 said he repeated his challenge a third time.

“I see his hands moving slightly together while he remained slightly crouched.

“I immediately see a handgun in one of his hands,” the officer said.

“As his hands came up over the dashboard they went slightly together as one would conventionally hold a handgun with both hands.

“They went together very close, I then saw the pistol grip of the handgun as that started to level its way up towards my vicinity.

“I discharged my firearm, fearing for my life and those of my colleagues.”

He told the inquest he fired a further two times, saying: “After the first shot the threat was still coming towards me.

“Seemingly that first shot didn’t stop the threat.

“Immediately upon firing the third shot Mr Yaqub’s head went back into the seat, he went bolt upright, his hands went out of view.”

“He looked towards me and his eyes rolled back in his head.

“I assumed he was either unconscious or deceased.”

The inquest heard V39’s colleagues started performing CPR on Mr Yaqub.

The transcript shows that at 18.06.43 he said on his police radio: “Ambulance please we have got shots fired by police.”

V39 told the inquest he looked in the Audi after he got out of his own car, saying: “I had just gone through a life-changing scenario, I had just had a firearm pointed at me and I wanted to see the firearm that had been pointed at me by Mr Yaqub.”

He said he saw a gun in the footwell of the Audi.

The inquest continues.