A man shot dead by police in Brighton was lawfully killed, according to the unanimous verdict of an inquest jury.
The jury returned their verdict yesterday (Friday 3 February) at Brighton Coroner’s Court.
They had been told that Michael Fitzpatrick, 49, was killed by armed officers in Rock Place, Brighton, on Thursday 10 February last year.
He died from gunshot wounds to the chest and abdomen.
The armed officers had intended to arrest Fitzpatrick who was suspected to have carried out a number of armed robberies in Burgess Hill.
But he pulled out a gun – a gas-powered BB gun – and pointed it at police.
Fitzpatrick, who had been jailed previously for 12 years for conspiracy to murder and two armed robberies, was shot by one of the officers.
He was given first aid by officers and taken to the Royal Sussex County Hospital near by where he doctors pronounced him dead.
Sussex Police Assistant Chief Constable Olivia Pinkney said after the inquest: “My thoughts are with the family and friends of Michael Fitzpatick today at what is undoubtedly a very difficult time.
“The decision made by officers that day is one of the most profoundly difficult decisions an officer may face in their career.
“As heard during the inquest, the officers had just three seconds to take action to protect themselves and members of the public against the visible threat of a firearm.
“Firearms officers are highly trained and the use of lethal force is seen as a last resort to protect the public or themselves.
“Any decision to use that high level of force will weigh heavily on those officers’ minds.
“We have fully supported the coroner’s inquest and an Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) investigation into Michael Fitzpatrick’s death, providing documents and witnesses to help determine the cause of death and the circumstances in which he died.
“The IPCC didn’t find any failings by officers in respect of Michael Fitzpatrick’s death, concluding that excellent decision-making had taken place and that the officers’ actions were both appropriate and proportionate.
“The police operation was described as having been impeccably planned and officers had taken the right action to deal proactively with the threat posed by a dangerous individual.
“After completing what the coroner described as a robust and independent investigation, the IPCC concluded that the recommendations made to Sussex Police would not have prevented the death of Mr Fitzpatrick.
“Officers had acted within moments to tend to Mr Fitzpatrick, but tragically neither they nor paramedics were able to save his life.”
The Coroner for Brighton and Hove, Veronica Hamilton-Deeley, and the jury extended their sympathies to Mr Fitzpatrick’s family and the officers involved.
They specifically praised the immediate medical care provided by the firearms officers, describing it as exemplary.
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