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Man shot dead by police near Bristol was lawfully killed | UK news


A man who was shot dead by police after firing an air pistol at an officer was lawfully killed, a jury has found.

Spencer Ashworth, 29, was fatally wounded by Avon and Somerset police officers on the A369 Portbury Hundred near Bristol on 27 September 2017.

He had been driving south on the M5 when police forces received reports of a man shooting what appeared to be a gun out of his car window.

Firearms officers stopped Ashworth, who was driving alone in his red Suzuki Swift, and surrounded his car with police vehicles at 9.32am.

The delivery driver did not comply with their instructions, instead raising his right hand and firing an air pistol at one of the officers.

Four of the five officers returned fire, discharging 15 rounds at Ashworth, who was pronounced dead at the scene at 9.54am.

A postmortem found Ashworth, originally from Southampton, had died from gunshot wounds to the head and chest.

On Tuesday, a jury at Avon coroner’s court reached a conclusion that Ashworth had been lawfully killed by police.

Maria Voisin, the senior coroner for Avon, offered her condolences to Ashworth’s family.

“Thank you for attending, especially at the moment when we are all facing a rather large issue in the country and indeed the world,” Voisin told the jury.

During the inquest, jurors were played recordings of 999 calls made to police forces as Ashworth travelled down the M5, as well as bodycam footage from officers.

Ashworth’s mother, Yvonne Maunder, said he was a keen skateboarder who was talented at drawing but became “insular” in his late teens and would play computer games alone in his bedroom.

He moved out of the family home aged 22 to live in Plymouth, Bristol and then Portishead, and kept in touch with his mother through email and occasional phone calls.

In one email sent in August 2017, he referred to “my new James Bond air pistol” and described how he wanted to go to California “before I have to shoot it out with the police”.

The inquest heard that Ashworth, who was awaiting two prosecutions, had warning markers for violence, mental health and suicide on his Police National Computer (PNC) record.

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