Woman was Lawfully Shot Dead by Police

30 April 2010, 05:41 | Updated: 30 April 2010, 06:04

An inquest has ruled a woman who was shot dead by police in Sevenoaks in 2007 was lawfully killed.

The jury had heard how Ann Sanderson, 37, had said she'd wanted to "escape from reality".

She died from a single gunshot wound to the chest after being fired at by and officer in Sevenoaks High Street in the early jours of June 11th 2007.

Before the shooting, she had been seen on CCTV wandering around a car park aiming what looked like a handgun at the cameras.

It turned out the weapon was an air pistol capable of firing ball-bearings.

Assistant Chief Constable Andy Adams says: 'It is always very sad when incidents like this happen. There is a devastating effect on the family of the person shot, and a huge impact on the officers involved and their families. Every death as a result of a police shooting is deeply regrettable, however Kent Police is committed to serving and protecting the people of Kent.

'Officers who command firearms incidents and those who undertake responsibility to carry firearms are highly trained and professional, and have to make critical operational judgements decisively.

'In the interests of protecting the public, firearms officers voluntarily put their lives on the line in critical situations. Officers are prepared and have a duty to stand between suspected armed individuals and the public. We must ensure they can act according to their training, and in compliance of the law.

'In any situation where officers make a decision to carry out an armed response, it is because a real and immediate danger to the lives of members of the public or police officers has been identified.'

Kent Police immediately referred the matter to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC). In accordance with national guidelines, they carried out an investigation of the incident.

ACC Adams continued: 'We fully supported the investigation by the IPCC. Transparency in our response to such incidents is vital, as is our duty of care to the firearms officers who confront threats on our behalf on a daily basis.'