British police probed over fugitive manhunt
Police were under investigation Sunday after one of Britain's biggest ever manhunts ended in two officers firing stun guns at fugitive Raoul Moat and the wanted man shooting himself dead.
As the picturesque village of Rothbury in northeast England tried to return to normality after a week-long manhunt ended dramatically there, questions were asked about how Moat managed to evade a search by hundreds of police.
One theory is that he hid in a storm drain next to the river in the village, meaning police were literally passing over his head on their patrols for days.
The probe by the Independent Police Complaints Commission is expected to focus on whether the firing of the 50,000-volt Taser guns prompted Moat to fire a sawn-off shotgun at his head in a dramatic end to the standoff.
Moat -- wanted for the fatal shooting of his ex-girlfriend's new boyfriend and gun attacks on her and a policeman -- took his own life early Saturday despite the efforts of a specialist negotiator to persuade him to surrender.
Video of his final moments released Sunday by the News of the World tabloid showed Moat sitting cross-legged close to the banks of the river, holding a shotgun pressed up to his chin as heavily armed police surround him.
At one point, the 37-year-old former nightclub bouncer eats a sandwich thrown to him by police but his right hand never leaves the trigger of his gun.
One of Moat's friends brought in to speak to him during the tense six-hour standoff said he was convinced the firing of the Taser stun guns prompted Moat to shoot himself.
Anthony Wright, 34, told the Sunday Mirror newspaper: "They got me there too late. I could have talked him round. I'm sure those Tasers led to his death."
He added: "When I got there police said he was calm and they had the situation under control.
"The negotiator was a real professional and he was stunned that Raoul killed himself.
"Why did it go from that and preparing me to speaking to him to him shooting himself?
"Something must have triggered it -- and I'm sure it was the fact they shocked him. Afterwards the negotiator had his head in his hands... he said it wasn't supposed to end like this."
An unidentified police officer told the News of the World the Tasers were fired to immobilise Moat in an attempt to stop him shooting himself.
Moat also reportedly told the negotiator: "I don't want to spend the rest of my life in a cell."
In a news conference on Saturday, Sue Sim, the temporary chief of Northumbria Police, admitted in a prepared statement that police "discharged Taser".
Her refusal to answer questions prompted speculation over when the Tasers were fired and whether their use played any part in Moat's decision to pull the trigger.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) later confirmed two Tasers were used by separate officers.
The IPCC was already probing why police failed to heed warnings from prison authorities that Moat would pose a potential threat to his former partner Samantha Stobbart when he left prison after serving an 18-week sentence for assault.
Soon after being freed, Moat shot and wounded Stobbart, who is also the mother of one of his children, killed her boyfriend, and shot and seriously injured a policeman near the city of Newcastle.
Moat told police he had a grudge against them, apparently fuelled by the fact that Stobbart had lied to him that she was dating a policeman in a bid to persuade him to stay away from her.
The shootings came just weeks after taxi driver Derrick Bird killed 12 people before turning the gun on himself in Cumberland, northwest England.
© 2010 AFP