A WEALTHY British lawyer who was shot dead by police during an armed siege at his London home in May 2008 was killed lawfully, an inquest has ruled.
Divorce specialist Mark Saunders, 32, was drunk and armed with a shotgun when police opened fire during a standoff at his £3.4 million ($5.5 million) home in Chelsea, west London.
A jury at Westminster Coroner’s Court in London ruled the police’s lethal actions were lawful, proportionate and reasonable at the conclusion of the inquest yesterday.
The panel found fatal gunshots to the head, heart and liver were “likely” to be caused by police shots that were lawfully fired in “reasonable self-defence.”
The jury said it was not sure if Saunders “deliberately and consciously” committed “suicide by cop” by using his shotgun to provoke police to shoot him.
The hearing was told that the gunman said he expected to die several times during the evening but that he was extremely drunk and may have been in a fantasy world.
Police commanders should have given more detailed consideration at an early stage in the siege to using Saunders’ wife Elizabeth and friend Michael Bradley, the jury said.
Both had asked police if they could speak to the gunman, who also wanted to contact them, but they were told it was too dangerous and to switch off their mobile phones.
Mrs Saunders said: “From the day Mark died I have been committed to ensuring that the circumstances of his death should be subjected to a thorough and independent investigation.
“I did not approach the process with any pre-determined conclusions and I respect the verdict of a jury who have carefully considered all the evidence.”
Police believed that if they had allowed him to speak to his wife, he would have simply taken the opportunity “to say goodbye.”