The death of an unarmed father-of-two at the hands of officers was Greater Manchester Police’s fault, an inquiry has found.
Anthony Grainger, 36, was behind the wheel of a stolen Audi when a police officer fired his Heckler and Koch submachine gun at him.
The officer, referred to in court as Q9, said he believed Mr Grainger had reached down to grab a gun as he opened fire.
But the inquiry heard no firearms were found on Mr Grainger or in the vehicle in a car park in Culcheth, Cheshire.
A judge has criticised force commanders of poor record keeping, faulty intelligence and procuring a tear gas system without the permission of the Home Office and against national guidance.
Mr Grainger and one of his two passengers, David Tatton, had been under police investigation for weeks over suspected involvement in commercial robberies.
In his report, Judge Thomas Teague QC said: ‘When Mr Grainger disobeyed Q9’s instruction to show his hands, he was probably reaching for the driver’s door handle in order to get out of the Audi.
‘Had GMP’s firearms commanders adopted disruption as a tactical option, as they should have done, they would have avoided the risks occasioned by decisive intervention.
‘Had they planned, briefed and conducted the deployment competently, Q9 would have been less likely to misinterpret Mr Grainger’s actions and might not have shot him.’
On four out of the five days before Mr Grainger’s death on March 3, 2012, the Audi was seen travelling from Salford, Greater Manchester, to the same part of Culcheth and back.
Firearms officers were dispatched on the evening of Mr Grainger’s shooting in anticipation of ‘hostage’ robbery at a commercial premises.
Everyone in the Audi, including third man Joseph Travers, were wearing gloves.
Mr Travers and Mr Totton were also wearing hats that could be rolled down to form face masks.
But Judge Teague pointed out there was no intelligence to suggest the men were armed or had access to firearms.
He said: ‘While their visit to Culcheth on March 3 was undoubtedly linked to serious crime, its purpose was probably not to commit a commercial robbery that evening.
‘It was almost certainly in connection with a future robbery, perhaps to conduct reconnaissance or to steal a car for use in the course of such a robbery.’
He said Mr Grainger, from Bolton, died because GMP failed to plan or conduct the MASTS (mobile armed support to surveillance) in a way that would minimise the need for lethal force.
The judge criticised GMP for failing to create an accurate intelligence profile of Mr Grainger, instead of painting a picture of him which gave a ‘distorted and exaggerated view’ of threat he presented.
He said GMP failed to ensure commanders and participants in the MASTS operation were competent enough for their roles.
The inquiry heard how both the tactical and operational firearms commanders had recently failed specialist training courses.
Commanders briefed firearms officers incompetently and did not tell them there was no intelligence suggesting any of the surveillance targets would be armed, Judge Teague said.
Officers were also said to have been wrongly briefed that one of the men had been in possession of a hacksaw days before officers swooped on them.
Judge Teague also said commanders ‘failed to maintain contemporaneous records of their decisions, reconstructing their official logs after the event.’
He said firearms commanders ‘unnecessarily’ authorised the use of special munitions, including a chemical weapons system known as the CS dispersal canister, which GMP had procured some years earlier without the Home Secretary’s authority and in flagrant breach of national guidance.
He said proper authorities will need to determine whether any criminal offences were committed in connection with the CS dispersal canister.
Lawyer’s for Mr Grainger’s partner, Gail Hadfield-Grainger urged Director of Public Prosecutions Max Hill QC to urgently review the findings with a view to bringing criminal proceedings of corporate manslaughter against GMP.
Leslie Thomas QC, representing the Grainger family, said they would invite criminal proceedings against at least four senior police officers and called for ‘urgent root-and-branch reform of GMP generally and their firearms unit in particular.’
Outside Liverpool Crown Court, Mr Grainger’s mother Marina Schofield said: ‘We want lessons to be learned. No mother should face that knock on the door and be told that the police have shot and killed her son.
‘We were all left devastated by Anthony’s death and have gone through further hell to find out the true facts of what happened that night.
‘We only hope that this outcome serves as a lesson for GMP so that others do not have to go through what we have suffered.’
A GMP spokeswoman said: ‘The force, our commanders and our officers do not set out on any policing operation with the intention of firearms being discharged.
‘This case was no different and the safety of the public, the subjects of police operations and our officers is, and remains, our absolute priority.
‘That being said, we undertake to consider each and every one of the chairman’s findings and criticisms with the utmost care, attention and reflection.
‘It is what the public would expect GMP to do in circumstances where criticisms have been made of the planning and preparation of a police operation in which a young man lost his life. It is what GMP will do.’
Got a story for Metro.co.uk?