Records of calls in Romford police shooting were 'wrong', inquest hears

Richard Cottier who was shot dead by police in Collier Row. Photo: Ellie Hoskins

Richard Cottier who was shot dead by police in Collier Row. His inquest entered its second day on Tuesday. Photo: Ellie Hoskins - Credit: Ellie Hoskins

A firearms officer has been questioned about whether information leading to the fatal shooting of a Romford father was accurately relayed.

An inquest into the death of Richard Cottier, 41, was opened on Monday at Barking Town Hall. 

It heard Mr Cottier had called police in the early hours of April 9, 2018, and a short while later, he was shot by police at an Esso petrol station in Collier Row Road.

His partner of 23 years, Melissa Cottier, said she believed Mr Cottier was experiencing a mental health crisis.

On Tuesday, a tactical firearms commander – granted anonymity and testifying behind screens – said that in the beginning, he had not declared the situation a firearms incident. 

Asked why, he replied: “Because at that point, the sole information that we had around the firearm was from Mr Cottier. 

“That call, to me, at that point, appeared to me to be someone that was suffering from mental health, versus a criminal in possession of a firearm.” 

After Mr Cottier’s initial 999 call, Mrs Cottier made two calls to the police. 

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The firearms officer testified that he upgraded the situation to a firearms incident based on information being relayed to him by PC Matt Bishop - who testified on Monday - during Mrs Cottier’s second call. 

Richard Cottier who was shot dead by police in Collier Row. Photo: Ellie Hoskins

Richard Cottier who was shot dead by police in Collier Row in April 2018. Photo: Ellie Hoskins - Credit: Ellie Hoskins

But Stephen Simblet QC, representing the Cottier family, questioned the accuracy of the information which had been relayed. 

The firearms officer had written in a statement that one of the reasons he upgraded the incident was because Mrs Cottier was “unsure”, but in calls played to jurors on Monday, Mrs Cottier said told police the gun had no bullets in it and that she had never known Mr Cottier to have any ammunition for it. 

Mr Simblet added that Mrs Cottier had also said “on at least six occasions” that Mr Cottier’s gun was fake. 

But, the officer said: “I was concerned about the information being provided by Mrs Cottier because it had changed significantly over the phone call made to the 999 operator and then also the call made by us to her.” 

Richard Cottier who was shot dead by police in Collier Row. Photo: Ellie Hoskins

Richard Cottier was described as a 'big kid' by his partner Melissa. Photo: Ellie Hoskins - Credit: Ellie Hoskins

One example cited by the officer was that when she first dialled 999, Mrs Cottier was quoted in a police log – known as a Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) - saying: “I’m in danger."

But then when police called her back, she had repeatedly said she was not in danger. 

The officer testified that he had suspected this could be because Mrs Cottier “didn’t want to get Mr Cottier in any more trouble” or could have been “being held under duress”. 

However, coroner Nadia Persaud said Mrs Collier had not changed her story about being in danger.  

Rather, a recording of the first call showed the police log was inaccurate.  

“You don’t see the transcript,” Mrs Persaud put it to the officer. “You don’t hear the phone call. So what you see is what’s written on the CAD?” 

The officer said that was correct. 

Mr Simblet asked: “If in fact the correct information had been relayed, that might, along with other things, have had an effect on your thinking. Is that fair?” 

“Yes,” the officer. 

Richard Cottier who was shot dead by police in Collier Row. Photo: Ellie Hoskins

The inquest into Mr Cottier's death is due to last three weeks. Photo: Ellie Hoskins - Credit: Ellie Hoskins

However, the officer said Mrs Cottier’s information about the gun had not been definite, as the only reason she knew the gun was fake was because Mr Cottier had told her. 

Asked whether he was satisfied that all appropriate options and contingencies had been considered, the officer replied that he was, adding: “I stand by it.” 

He said he believed that if a negotiator had been called out, the situation may have ended differently. 

The inquest continues. 

When life is difficult, the Samaritans is available 365 days, 24/7. Call for free on 116 123, email jo@samaritans.org, or visit www.samaritans.org

For more, read:

Witness denies comments in police statement at Romford Shooting inquest

Collier Row father shot by police had 'fake gun', inquest hears

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