‘We locked eyes – I thought he was going to kill me’: Undercover police describe moment they shot terror attacker
Written by Hit Music Radio News on 11/08/2021
An undercover surveillance officer has described the split-second decision to open fire on the Streatham terror attacker in a busy shopping street.
The officer, referred to only as BX75, told an inquest he expected to see Sudesh Amman cutting people’s heads off and saw him running along Streatham High Street towards him.
He had been released from Belmarsh prison 10 days earlier after serving half of a 40-month sentence for obtaining and distributing terrorist material, and been put under surveillance.
That day, he was being watched by nine members of the Metropolitan Police’s MO3 surveillance branch, one of them carrying what appeared to be a Waitrose bag.
One of the officers, BX75, described how he heard a colleague say over the radio: “He’s stabbing people.”
“My immediate thought was Mr Amman was killing people a matter of metres ahead of me,” he told the inquest.
“I was expecting to make my way forward there and see him stabbing people, cutting their heads off. That was what immediately went through my mind.”
He said he was worried for his colleague who was armed only with a Taser and feared it might not work because Amman had thick and heavy clothing on.
“I was in fear of his life and I wanted to protect members of the public. I immediately drew my Glock pistol from my hip, I just pulled up my jacket and grabbed it,” he said.
The officer described the scene, busy with shops, pubs and bus stops.
“It was a normal Sunday, pre-COVID afternoon,” he said.
As he looked up and drew his pistol, he saw Amman running towards him, no more than 10 metres away.
“He had a large butcher’s knife, silver bladed at least eight inches long. He held it up in front of him as he was running. It wasn’t hidden in any way shape or form,” he said.
“I saw him, he saw me, and I am 100% confident we locked eyes. I thought he was going to stab me and kill me or certainly very seriously injure me.
“I would have had my pistol in a double-handled grip. I could see Mr Amman run towards me, I stopped and had a split second to fire a shot at Mr Amman.”
The shot was aimed at Amman’s chest but missed and went through the window of a Lidl supermarket behind him.
Amman ran past the officer and he followed him with his pistol.
But he told the inquest: “It was my assessment that he still posed a grave threat to any member of the public.”
The officer said he thought that Amman was going to “stab me, attack my colleague, attack anyone who came out of Boots that did not know what was going on outside or turn and run into Boots and continue his attack”.
“I was convinced he was making a decision who to attack there and then,” he said.
“I’d like to think I said something to him along the lines of ‘stop police, drop the knife’ – but I have no recollection.
“He was so close to me with the knife that I had immediate fear for my life. I fired a shot at his chest, a single shot.”
His colleague, BX87, fired at almost the same time but there was no reaction from Amman.
“Mr Amman remained standing where he was, I saw no visible reaction from him, nothing at all, the threat was still there, he was still exactly the same threat to me as before so I fired a second shot, then reassessed again and he started to fall, he fell to the floor,” said BX75.
“He dropped the knife or the knife fell out of his hand,” he added, and his colleague stepped forward and kicked it away.
At that point, the white JD plastic bag across his front moved from his chest area and he saw the tops of the orange plastic bottles wrapped in silver foil and attached to a vest.
“I took them to be a viable improvised explosive device,” he said. “I shouted words to the effect of, ‘vest’ or ‘device’.”
“Mr Amman was still moving, his arms were thrashing side to side and his legs were bicycling up and down. But soon afterwards he stopped moving,” he added.
BX87 told the inquiry he thought he was on his own and had not realised his colleague was standing to his left with his handgun drawn.
Describing the confrontation with Amman, BX87 said: “I thought he was going to stab me, attack me, try to kill me. I fired a shot aimed at his main torso.
“Nothing changed. I was shouting, ‘drop the knife, drop the knife’ constantly. I fired a further number of rounds, still aimed at the central body mass. I thought I was still on my own at this point.”
The hearing was told that BX87 fired three shots, as did BX75, but only two hit Amman.
BX87 said he had intended to give Amman first aid, as he was trained to do, but as he kicked the knife away he heard his colleague shout about the potential suicide vest.
He said: “I saw it just for a split second, I thought it was an explosive device. I immediately reacted, I thought potentially I was going to get blown up by whatever it was.”
The officer backed off, put a mask and police cap on, and started to get the members of the public in shop fronts and cars to move away, before he was relieved by uniformed armed officers.
The hearing continues.
© Sky News 2020