Actions of man shot dead by police were ‘cry for help’, inquest told

·3-min read

The partner of a man who was fatally shot by Metropolitan Police officers after telling them he had a gun has told his inquest the father-of-three’s actions were a “cry for help”.

Richard Cottier, 41, was shot in the early hours of April 9 2018 after telling police he had taken a drug overdose, making threats and claiming to have a firearm.

Officers arrived at the Esso petrol station in Collier Row Road, Romford, east London, following a call from Mr Cottier at 3.50am.

He was shot at around 4.45am and was pronounced dead at the scene about half an hour later.

An inquest into his death began at Barking Town Hall on Monday.

Richard Cottier
Richard Cottier was shot dead by police (Family handout/PA)

Melissa Cottier, 41, said the situation had “escalated very quickly” and her partner had been “backed into a corner”.

In a statement, read to the jury by the coroner Nadia Persaud, she said Mr Cottier had been quiet during the day on April 8 – the day of their child’s thirteenth birthday – and had not come downstairs to speak to relatives.

She said later that night Mr Cottier had told her and his children he loved them and had called the police to tell them he had a gun before leaving the house to buy cigarettes.

“At about 3.30 in the morning he told (the children) he loved them and they should not come out of their bedrooms,” she said.

“He told the police that he had a gun and that they would have to shoot him dead or he would shoot them.”

She added: “He told them he had taken a drug overdose and I want to know why he wasn’t treated as a vulnerable person.

“Everything escalated very quickly when he took the overdose … that was his cry for help.

“He was backed into a corner at the petrol station and he didn’t envisage what was going to happen.”

Ms Cottier said her partner had told her to call the police to tell them there was “no direct threat to the children or me”.

“I told them he did not have a real gun and that we were safe,” she said, adding she had never felt threatened by Mr Cottier.

The inquest heard phone calls in which Ms Cottier can be heard telling police the firearm was not real, though she admitted she could not confirm this.

Following the incident, the police watchdog said that a non-police firearm was recovered from the scene.

It added that a ballistics expert had confirmed the weapon, carried by Mr Cottier, was a modified air rifle.

Ms Cottier said she had panic attacks following the incident and was “traumatised” and “outraged” by the behaviour of officers on the night.

She said she had been given “no support” when informed of Mr Cottier’s death and had learnt of the circumstances through a press release, which she said was “unacceptable”.

“It didn’t cross my mind that the police would arrive armed … and less still that they would shoot Richard dead,” she said.

Describing her partner of 23 years, she said: “He was happiest when he was at home with his kids.

“He was a loving, caring father and partner, a big kid, generous, thoughtful and the type of person who would give you his last fiver if you needed it.

“He was my life and he was my kids’ life.”

The inquest, which is due to last three weeks, continues.

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