Police body cameras failed to record when Romford father was shot, inquest hears

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

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

A former firearms officer has told jurors he would expect the Met Police to ask questions after officers’ body-worn cameras failed during a fatal police shooting.

Former tactical firearms commander Kevin Nicholson, now armed policing lead at the College of Policing, was questioned about the missing footage at Barking Town Hall on Monday, June 7.

He was testifying as an expert witness in the inquest of Richard Cottier – a 41-year-old Romford father who was shot dead by police on April 9, 2018.

Mr Cottier had an unloaded air rifle during the incident.

Mr Nicholson said he was contacted by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) after the shooting and asked if officers had chosen appropriate weapons and whether they were right to handcuff Mr Cottier as he lay dying.

However, his report for the IOPC had not addressed the failure of officers’ body-worn cameras.

Questioned on the stand, he said: “This would be exactly the type of incident that you would expect them to activate that body-worn video."

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Stephen Simblet QC, representing Mr Cottier’s family, told him: “There were at least four people who were expected to use their body-worn video footage and of those four, in two of the cases it didn’t seem to work at all.

“Those two included the officer who appointed himself operational firearms commander at the scene, so we don’t have any of what he said and the instructions that he gave, and they also included one of the officers who delivered one of the fatal shots.”

Mr Simblet said another officer had encountered “what he called a buffering problem”, although his camera did still capture some footage.

He asked Mr Nicholson whether, in a case like Mr Cottier’s where several cameras had not recorded properly, he would expect that to be looked into by the Met.

“I don’t think that would be unreasonable,” Mr Nicholson replied.

Discussing his report for the IOPC, he told jurors it would be “unusual and inappropriate” for a firearms officer to “constrain” officers by telling them which weapons to use.

Mr Nicholson said he had never seen any footage of the shooting but he understood from officers’ statements that they had been sent to the petrol station where Mr Cottier was shot on a “spontaneous redeployment”.

He said when “deploying dynamically to an emerging threat... access and availability may be the primary factor”.

Earlier in the inquest, it was heard that Mr Cottier was two-and-a-half times the drink-drive limit on the night.

He was logged by police that night as EMD (emotionally or mentally distressed).

Mr Nicholson said that when a subject had been classed as EMD, officers should try, if possible, to “back off slightly”.

He said officers may “use more effective cover, stand off more, use negotiation more... Give that individual more time and space to allow things to calm down slightly.

“All of those things may enable tension to be diffused. If the issue at hand is alcohol or drugs, possibly allow for that to wear off.”

Barking Town Hall

An inquest into Richard Cottier's death is being held at Barking Town Hall. Jurors are set to begin their deliberations on Tuesday, June 8. - Credit: Archant

Mr Nicholson added: “That the subject is emotionally or mentally distressed does not in any way reduce the harm that they may cause to themselves or others.”

Firearms officers shot Mr Cottier within 15 seconds of driving onto the petrol station forecourt, saying he had been pointing the unloaded air rifle at a member of the public when they arrived, and he then pointed it at them.

Mr Nicholson said there was no formal guidance on handcuffing shooting victims, as it was up to officers' judgement in the circumstances.

Jurors were due to begin their deliberations on Tuesday, June 8.

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