Barrister Mark Saunders was legally killed, a jury decided, but the coroner has argued that police must use more “common sense” in firearms operations.
Coroner Dr Paul Knapman wrote to Home Secretary, Theresa May, saying there is currently “slavish adherence” to written documents and protocols meaning that officers are not allowed to exercise “common sense”. In this case, allowing Saunders to speak to his wife and friend on the phone could have diffused the situation, despite not being part of standard procedure.
However, despite these criticisms, jurors found the marksmen who fired at Mr Saunders were ultimately justified in gunning him down and recorded a verdict of lawful killing.
Saunders’ widow, Elizabeth (above), said that she respected the verdict of the jury. “I did not approach the process with any pre-determined conclusions,” she said.
Mark Saunders, 32, died after being shot by seven marksmen after a five-hour stand-off at his £2.2million Chelsea home. The family law barrister was drunk and repeatedly asked to speak to his wife.
The jury concluded that commanders failed to take into account the alcoholic’s vulnerable state and expressed their dissatisfaction with the police operation.
Knapman suggested that in future, it would be an advantage for a very senior officer to review what is happening so they can change the tactics and strategy if needed. He said: “My perception is that ‘not being able to see the wood for the trees’ may be a problem.”