Armed police lawfully killed Fishmongers' Hall terrorist Usman Khan

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

  • Usman Khan emerged from toilets to stab Jack Merritt, 25, and Saskia Jones, 23 
  • A firearms officer shot Usman Khan twice, while another discharged a Taser
  • While sitting on ground he lifted jacket to show fake suicide vest and was killed  

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, the inquest heard.

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

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 tactical firearms commander in the Metropolitan Police special operations room in Lambeth only gave permission for a ‘critical shot’ after the second volley of shots, but the officers were authorised to make their own decisions, the inquest was told.

The coroner, Mark Lucraft QC, told the jury: ‘In this case I have decided, with no objection from any interested parties, that the only safe conclusion is lawful killing.

‘Therefore, you the jury are directed to return that conclusion.’

He told the jury they should not criticise the actions of the police officers because they ‘all provided an explanation for their actions and the explanations were not challenged.’

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. 

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

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.’ 

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

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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