Fishmongers’ Hall attack inquest rules armed police lawfully killed terrorist Usman Khan

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Armed police lawfully killed Fishmongers’ Hall terrorist Usman Khan by shooting him 20 times over the space of 10 minutes after he stabbed two Cambridge graduates to death, an inquest jury found today. 

The jury ruled that police believed Khan was ‘pulling for the trigger’ on his fake suicide vest when they unleashed a second volley of shots at him after he sat up and opened his jacket on London Bridge.

One officer shot Usman Khan twice at close range but did not kill him and another five officers then discharged 18 more rounds when he sat up, eight minutes later. Only 12 of the rounds hit him and two caused fatal injuries.

Usman Khan, 28, was sprayed with bullets by armed officers on London Bridge minutes after he murdered Cambridge graduates in Fishmongers’ Hall on the banks of the River Thames

As well as the gunshot wounds, Khan had several blunt force trauma injuries consistent with being jabbed with a narwhal tusk (pictured), punched and hit with other solid objects

As well as the gunshot wounds, Khan had several blunt force trauma injuries consistent with being jabbed with a narwhal tusk (pictured), punched and hit with other solid objects

As well as the gunshot wounds, Khan had several blunt force trauma injuries consistent with being jabbed with a narwhal tusk (pictured), punched and hit with other solid objects

A new image released today showing armed police aiming their weapons at Khan on the ground as a bystander (with the pink colouring around their neck) runs away

A new image released today showing armed police aiming their weapons at Khan on the ground as a bystander (with the pink colouring around their neck) runs away

A new image released today showing armed police aiming their weapons at Khan on the ground as a bystander (with the pink colouring around their neck) runs away 

The jury gave a narrative conclusion in which they said that Usman Khan refused commands to stay still and police were forced to ‘neutralise the risk.’

The jury concluded that Khan had ‘carried out a planned attack on multiple people in Fishmongers’ Hall armed with two knives and a very realistic looking IED around his waist.’

When the first armed police vehicle arrived on scene carrying three armed officers, they ‘tried to gain control of the situation’ and told the public to move away, the jury said.

Khan ‘did not comply and kept on moving.’ Police officer YX99 heard him say he had a bomb and ‘felt and saw what he perceived as a viable IED on Khan.’

‘He fired two shots into Khan to incapacitate him and reduce the risk to the public still in the area,’ the jury said.

Police moved slightly further away to try to gain cover, while keeping ‘line of sight’ on Khan.

London Bridge terrorist’s graphic final moments 

The final moments of Usman Khan’s life were as graphic in content as they were extraordinary in nature.

Bloodied from two point-blank gunshot wounds to his body that left him writhing in agony on the west-side pavement of London Bridge eight minutes earlier, the 28-year-old terrorist summoned a final adrenaline-fuelled thrust of energy to sit bolt upright, legs outstretched in front of him, and stare purposefully at an effective firing squad of police.

Nine shots were fired at him during that 13-second period, including at least one to the face which caused Khan, as a final act, to touch his forehead with his hand as if to assess the damage before falling onto his back to die.

A couple of limb twitches caused police to fire at him again, having been granted clearance to perform a ‘critical shot’ – a near-instantly fatal wound – due to the presence of a suspected suicide belt around his waist.

He was officially pronounced dead an hour later after police experts had declared the scene safe.

Khan had travelled to London by train from his home in Stafford that morning wearing a hoax suicide device secreted under his coat, and attended a prisoner education event where he stabbed Cambridge graduates Jack Merritt, 25, and Saskia Jones, 23, before being chased from the venue.

The scene was played out to an audience of horrified members of the public, and was captured by a variety of cameras recording events unfolding.

Live footage from a police helicopter also filled a gigantic screen in the Met’s control room nearby south of the River Thames.

Recalling Khan’s death throes, shortly after 2pm on November 29 2019, a tactical firearms commander known only as WA30 told the jury during the two-week inquest into Khan’s death: ‘I thought he was going to detonate that device.

‘I was just in a cold sweat, I could hear my own heartbeat, I was sweating profusely, my mouth went so dry.’

He added: ‘It was like watching a slow motion car crash.

‘I was squinting at the monitor thinking he would detonate that at any moment, thinking he would kill my officers, the public as well.’

At the scene, armed response officers from the Met and City of London Police standing well within the 100m blast zone said they feared they would be killed as Khan sat up, having spent several minutes breathing deeply lying prone on his back following the first two gun shots, and appearing to reach for something nearby.

An officer known as AZ99 said: ‘At that point there, I thought: We’re dead.’

It was at this moment that officers opened on Khan again, firing nine of the 20 shots aimed at Khan that afternoon.

All the while, handfuls of pedestrians could be seen milling around on the walkway directly underneath Khan, oblivious to the dramatic events on London Bridge above them.

‘I was flabbergasted that the man (Khan) had been shot numerous times and it took a while for him to cease moving,’ WA30 said.

‘Eventually – very slowly, nothing like you see in the movies – he ceased moving.’

The footage, recorded against the low hanging sun of a November afternoon, is so graphic it was not released to the media and is unlikely ever to be shown in public again.

 

Between 2.03pm and 2:10pm, Khan ‘continued to move while police continued to clear the surrounding area and shouted at Khan to stay still,’ the conclusions read.

‘The police believed Khan was trying to find a trigger. At 2.10.27pm Khan sat up which was interpreted by the police as a move to detonate the device.

‘As a result of this, officers decided to take multiple critical shots to neutralise this risk. These critical shots were supported by senior officers in the command centre.’

The coroner told the hearing that Jack Merritt and Saskia Jones had demonstrated a ‘profound commitment to the good of society’ and had their lives ‘tragically cut short.’

He spoke of the ‘remarkable courage and compassion’ of Steve Gallant, John Crilly, Darryn Frost and Lukasz Koczocik who fought off Khan and subdued him until the police arrived.

‘Lives were saved as well as lost in this terrible attack,’ he added.

The coroner said that he would produce a ‘prevention of future deaths’ report sometime before the second anniversary of the attack on November 29 this year.

Usman Khan had emerged from the toilets at the livery hall, to stab Jack Merritt, 25, and Saskia Jones, 23, workers on the Learning Together project, on 29 November 2019.

He had been released on licence from Whitemoor Category A prison 11 months earlier, after serving half of a 16-year sentence for terrorist offences, and was wearing a fake suicide vest.

A firearms officer shot Usman Khan twice, while another discharged a Taser, after a colleague dragged off a member of the public.

After he was shot, Khan was shouted at to lay still and apparently yelled: ‘No, allahu akbar!’ [god is great] before rolling over and sitting up.

He was sitting up for 13 seconds, during which at least nine shots were fired at him, followed by another nine, as he made further movements.

Khan had put on a pair of gloves and taped two knives around his wrists, which both had the Arabic script for Allah etched into the blade.

He had also apparently said a prayer from a book called the Fortress of the Muslims which was later found on the floor, before putting on a face mask to launch the attack.

He was chased out onto London Bridge by three guests from the Learning Together conference, a prison service worker, a former prisoner and a prisoner on day release. 

As he got a few hundred yards down the road and onto the bridge, still pursued by the men, Khan stopped running, turned and confronted them. 

Darryn Frost thrust a Nawal tusk, taken from the hall, at Khan while John Crilly set off a fire extinguisher and Steve Gallant, who was unarmed, brought Khan to the floor.

The Nawal tusk nearly killed him narrowly missing the carotid artery in his neck, a pathologist told the inquest.

All three men then jumped on top of the terrorist and tried to get the knives out of his hands, as armed police were flagged down on the opposite carriageway. 

The first armed response car arrived with three firearms officers from City of London Police at 2.02pm, six minutes after the attack had begun inside the hall.

While one officer, code named WS5, pulled Frost off Khan, another, YX15, discharged his taser and a third, YX99, shot him twice.

YX99 described coming face to face with Khan and said he thought he was going to die after grabbing the killer and hearing him say: ‘I’ve got a bomb’.

The City of London Police officer could be heard screeching at the top of his voice ‘He’s got a bomb, he’s got a bomb, he’s got a bomb’ as he tried to clear people out of the way before shooting Khan twice at close range.

He told the inquest into the shooting: ‘I thought he was going to detonate it. I thought we were going to die.’ 

 

 

Khan stabbed Cambridge graduates Jack Merritt, 25, (left) and Saskia Jones, 23, at a prisoner education event in Central London in November 2019

Khan stabbed Cambridge graduates Jack Merritt, 25, (left) and Saskia Jones, 23, at a prisoner education event in Central London in November 2019

Khan stabbed Cambridge graduates Jack Merritt, 25, (left) and Saskia Jones, 23, at a prisoner education event in Central London in November 2019

Khan pictured at Bank station on his way to attend a prisoner rehabilitation event, in a photo which was shown in court during an earlier inquest into the terror attack at the Fishmongers Hall in London in November 2019

Khan pictured at Bank station on his way to attend a prisoner rehabilitation event, in a photo which was shown in court during an earlier inquest into the terror attack at the Fishmongers Hall in London in November 2019

Khan pictured at Bank station on his way to attend a prisoner rehabilitation event, in a photo which was shown in court during an earlier inquest into the terror attack at the Fishmongers Hall in London in November 2019

Afterwards he admitted he was ‘in a bit of a panicked sate’ and wondering if the device was real.

The officer, codenamed YX99, said he was ‘fully expecting’ Khan to be dead so when he moved afterwards, he was stunned.

The officers withdrew 40 yards down the road and took cover behind a wall outside the Fishmongers Hall.

Eight minutes later, Khan tried to sit up and colleagues shot at him another 18 times.

Ian Waring was a solicitor with Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner on the third floor of Adelaide House on London Bridge, texted his wife at 2.09pm, saying: ‘All kicking off here, we’ve just witnessed someone get shot by the police. He has knives and was tackled to the ground by passers by.’

A minute later, he added: ‘He’s moving around but police will kill him if he moves much more.’ 

WS5, recalled seeing Khan wipe away blood ‘in disbelief’ after trying to take a ‘critical shot’ to his head from 40 yards away.

The City of London firearms officer said he elected to take a ‘head shot’ because he feared Khan was about to set off his device, and ‘we would all be dead.’

He saw a mother with a pram walk under the bridge ‘without a care in the world’ and feared that Khan could still set off what he thought was a suicide belt.

The officer, a former member of the military, shifted aim to Khan’s ‘central body mass’, firing 10 of the 20 rounds shot at Khan.

Four more armed response vehicles arrived in the four minutes between 2.04pm and 2.08pm, one more from the City of London and three from the Metropolitan Police. 

A man carrying a tusk as he exits Fishmongers' Hall in pursuit of Khan. Before armed officers arrived, other attendees at the event tried to incapacitate him

A man carrying a tusk as he exits Fishmongers' Hall in pursuit of Khan. Before armed officers arrived, other attendees at the event tried to incapacitate him

A man carrying a tusk as he exits Fishmongers’ Hall in pursuit of Khan. Before armed officers arrived, other attendees at the event tried to incapacitate him

Khan on board a train to London, which was shown in court at the earlier inquest into the terror attack at the Fishmongers' Hall

Khan on board a train to London, which was shown in court at the earlier inquest into the terror attack at the Fishmongers' Hall

Khan on board a train to London, which was shown in court at the earlier inquest into the terror attack at the Fishmongers’ Hall

Khan seen to ‘make a number of movements’ after he was shot, untaping the glove from one hand and removing his jacket so the suicide belt was visible.

When Khan started to sit up at 2.10pm, nine further shots were fired and he fell back onto the ground.

A wound could be seen on his face and he was bending his right leg and lifting his knee off the ground when there was a further shot.

At 2.11 pm there were four more shots after one of the officers was heard to say he was still moving.

It was only then that the control room authorised a ‘critical shot’ and a further shot was taken, followed by one more when his left arm moved.

From 2.12pm there was no further movement and at 2.18pm explosives sniffer dogs were sent in and found there was no explosives.

Explosives officers followed at 2.41pm and at 5.07pm, Khan was declared ‘life extinct.’

The jury was told that the ‘suicide belt’ was actually made from black material from a FormFit weightlifting belt, probably bought from TK Maxx.

The ‘explosives’ were actually bandages wrapped in clingfilm and covered in gaffer tape and there was wiring from an Energizer battery charger and the circuit board from Khan’s Xbox games console.

Wiring detectives believe was part of the terrorist's fake suicide vest

Wiring detectives believe was part of the terrorist's fake suicide vest

Wiring detectives believe was part of the terrorist's fake suicide vest

Wiring detectives believe was part of the terrorist's fake suicide vest

Wiring detectives believe was part of the terrorist’s fake suicide vest 

The belt appeared to have been made at Khan’s rented flat in Stafford where other items, including tape and wiring were in the bins when we went in and searched it.

The belt had probably been fitted on the journey down because Khan had spent seven minutes in the toilets on the train and used a roll if tape which was not found at his home.

The cause of death was given as ‘1a shock and haemorrhage due to 1b multiple gunshot wounds to the chest and abdomen.’

Chief Inspector Phil Taylor, Scotland Yard’s most senior firearms instructor, explained the justification for taking a ‘critical shot.’

‘What we are seeking is the immediate incapacity to the neurological function delivered by that shot so we know for sure they can’t carry out what they were intending to do,’ he told the inquest.

Jonathan Hough QC, for the coroner asked: ‘So all messages from the brain stop and no purposeful action possible?’

Mr Taylor said the officer was taking a ‘head shot’, aiming for the medulla oblongata, at the base of the brain so the ‘threat will then dissipate.’

The ‘critical shot’ could be taken without specific authorisation from above to do so, the inquest heard.

Usman Khan: The ‘unremarkable’ high school dropout who became a double murderer 

Khan's mugshot

Khan's mugshot

Khan’s mugshot 

Usman Khan was, according to one former teacher, ‘fairly unremarkable’.

A low-achiever with delusions of grandeur, a name-dropper who begged for status and attention.

And on a cold afternoon four weeks before Christmas 2019 in central London, the 28-year-old became a cowardly killer.

He strapped an authentic-looking suicide belt to his waist and attacked defenceless victims with kitchen knives, before goading the police to shoot him, knowing they feared he could cause mass casualties by setting his device off.

His victims that day were two successful young Cambridge graduates, Jack Merritt and Saskia Jones. They embodied everything he sought but failed to be.

Khan was born in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, on March 10 2001. He was the sixth of seven children, and went to a local state comprehensive school but dropped out.

One of Khan’s former teachers described him as having ‘a teenage swagger, a little bit of a chip on his shoulder’.

‘But,’ the teacher said, Khan was ‘fairly unremarkable’.

It was during his teenage years that he became interested in the extremist views of prominent figures Anwar al-Awlaki and Anjem Choudary, head of the banned terror organisation al-Muhajiroun.

He later admitted planning a terror training camp to send anti-West fighters to the UK, and was handed an indeterminate sentence which was varied upon appeal to an extended sentence. As such, he was released without parole after eight years inside.

Khan was described as an ‘influential’ inmate who associated with other high-profile terrorists, including Fusilier Lee Rigby’s killer Michael Adebowale, while Khan later told people he had mixed at various times with the likes of hooked cleric Abu Hamza and notorious prisoner Charles Bronson.

But he successfully convinced many, including his prison chaplain and his probation officer, that he had changed his ways for the better.

He even succeeded in duping Mr Merritt, a co-ordinator on the Learning Together prisoner education scheme, who insisted Khan had been ‘de-radicalised’ when a colleague raised concerns about possible terrorist imagery in a poem Khan wrote ahead of his release.

His 11 months in the community on licence were characterised by isolation and rejection.

He failed to find a job – even Timpson, one of the largest employers of ex-offenders in the country, turned him down – he stopped going to the gym and to the mosque, and spent most of his time in his one-bedroom flat playing computer games and watching DVDs. He also used sex lines.

But he continued to tell people he had changed.

Even on the day of the attack, wearing a fake suicide belt and carrying a backpack containing the eventual murder weapons, Khan bounded over to his former prison counter-terrorism governor, offered him a hug, and declared: ‘I have learnt that violence isn’t the path.’

Another lie – but one which would have profound consequences on the lives of two young academics and all those present at Fishmongers’ Hall that day.  

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