We have received this letter from the wife of a principal officer.
I was just getting ready for work, the phone rang, it showed withheld, I wondered who would be calling at such an early time in the morning. I answered and found it was my husband who was working an early shift on the ARV, he straight away told me he had just had to shoot someone. My stomach turned, I felt suddenly light headed and needed to sit down, the nearest seat to me was the toilet, I am sure, if it had not been there I would have dropped to the floor. I asked if he was okay, he said he was but he did not think the person he had shot was going to make it, he explained the person was receiving CPR and promised to keep me updated as and when he could, we then ended the call. All though I was apprehensive about what we were to go through. I never doubted my husband, I know him to be a very professional, calm, experienced, well trained and thoughtful person who would not panic when confronted with a threat, for him to have actually shot someone would have had to have been the most extreme scenario.
Obviously I was aware my husband may one day be involved in a Firearms Incident, but you can never be prepared for that day and think it will never happen to you. Nobody had ever explained to me what the process would be, or how long it would take for the matter to be investigated and concluded, it was the first Police shooting in our force. I can remember initially, naively, thinking it may take six months, I know from experience that Incidents handled by our local force Major Incident Team are generally at Court or Inquest in that time scale.
I definitely was not prepared for the prolonged, grueling, investigation by the IPCC who cover our force area, or the deep, constant anxiety and stress that it brought, mostly due to what I see, as the incompetence of the IPCC and their thoughtlessness and blunders. In fact it actually took three damaging years for the family of the deceased, the Principal Officers and their families, waiting to get to Inquest.
One of the things I found hard to endure was the articles printed by our local press, they were so inaccurate, hurtful and untrue, we could not correct them as we were gagged from commenting, it was so frustrating.
All through the Inquiry my husband was not an operational AFO, it was not by choice but a decision made by the force, he worked in a department where overtime was not required, we missed the little bit of extra in his wage packet each month, it had helped towards holidays and meals out, so we had to tighten our purse strings. I was just so thankful we do not rely on overtime to meet our monthly outgoings because that would have been an added stress and worry.
We only told people on the need to know basis about my husband’s involvement and they can be counted on one hand. I cannot thank enough one couple who we totally confided in, they were there for us, always listening, never judging and totally understanding.
Once during the time of the investigation we spoke with an officer who had been involved in a police shooting, it did help both my husband and I when he confirmed the things my husband was experiencing, like lack of sleep, terrible dreams, forgetfulness, inability to concentrate, tearfulness, lack of patients and many more, were all what he too had experienced.
We did see a counsellor, both singularly and together who helped to make sense of our feelings and thoughts, we would come out drained but found it did keep us mentally healthy.
My thanks also goes to the Federation rep who was initially assigned to the case, he was both protective and supportive, a godsend, he in turn had contacted a solicitor who proved over the years extremely professional, understanding and competent and who I hold in high regard.
Since the Inquest life is slowing returning to normal, the incident is mentioned less and less but never goes away, there are times when it comes back with a vengeance to the forefront of my mind, especially when I hear of another police shooting, my heart goes out to all those involved.
I will end this by explaining this is an extremely sanitised version of my thoughts and experiences, I could go on page after page. I still have a deep bitter anger as to the handling of the case and what my husband and his partner, on the fateful day, have gone through for taking the action they did, which was to act totally professional, protected the public and themselves and do the job they are trained for.
I do acknowledge that it is sad someone lost their life and I cannot imagine what the family are going through.