‘I didn’t think we were going home’: Armed police describe confronting terrorist on London Bridge

·4 min read
‘I didn’t think we were going home’: Armed police describe confronting terrorist on London Bridge
A still from CCTV footage showing armed police officers confronting Usman Khan after he was subdued by members of the public (Metropolitan Police )
A still from CCTV footage showing armed police officers confronting Usman Khan after he was subdued by members of the public (Metropolitan Police )

Armed police officers have described how they feared that a terrorist was going to blow them up and collapse London Bridge after he revealed a suicide vest.

Usman Khan was wearing what experts said was a “very realistic” fake bomb when he launched a stabbing rampage at a prison rehabilitation event in November 2019.

One of the officers who shot Khan described him as a “selfish c***” for forcing police to shoot him, in the belief that the device was real and he was about to detonate it.

The chaos unfolded in front of a school bus full of children, tourists and commuters as traffic ground to a halt on London Bridge.

Witnesses told the inquest into Khan’s death that they “couldn’t compute” what they were seeing during the struggle with the terrorist, and thought it could be a “sketch show” or filming for a movie.

Khan had already murdered two people inside Fishmongers’ Hall before being chased outside by fellow attendees and staff, who fought him with makeshift weapons including a narwhal tusk, pike and fire extinguisher.

Khan repeatedly shouted that he had a bomb during the battle, but an inquest heard that the unfolding terror attack was initially described only as a stabbing incident over police radios.

The first armed officers who rushed to the scene as Khan was chased across London Bridge told how they were unaware of the seriousness of the attack, or what the terrorist was wearing.

A City of London Police constable codenamed YX99, who was in the first armed response car that arrived, described hearing a person shout that Khan had “just f**ing killed two people” as he and two colleagues ran into the ongoing brawl.

Steven Gallant, a convicted murderer, former prisoner John Crilly and civil servant Darryn Frost had tackled Khan to the ground and were desperately trying to remove the knives taped to his hands, alongside members of the public, when police arrived.

A still of CCTV footage showing John Crilly and Steven Gallant fighting Usman Khan on London Bridge, using a narwhal tusk and fire extinguisher (Met Police)
A still of CCTV footage showing John Crilly and Steven Gallant fighting Usman Khan on London Bridge, using a narwhal tusk and fire extinguisher (Met Police)

Mr Frost had seen Khan’s vest and was pinning his hands down to prevent him accessing any triggers, but his position on top of the terrorist obscured the officers’ view.

The inquest into Khan’s death, held at London’s Guildhall, heard that police only saw the device after Mr Frost was physically dragged off Khan and everyone else was ordered back.

YX99 described how at that moment, Khan looked at him and said “I’ve got a bomb”.

“I was probably slightly stunned,” he added. “I was thinking: ‘You selfish c***, you want to kill yourself and you’re trying to get me to do it’.”

The officer then saw Khan’s fake bomb vest, which he believed to be real, and his “mind stopped working”.

“The last thing I remember thinking there is ‘well, it’s going to hurt’,” he added. “I just recall screaming as loudly as I could: ‘He’s got a bomb on him, he’s got a bomb on him, get back, get back’.”

YX99 said he shot Khan twice at “literally the first second the shot became available”, while a colleague who had not seen the bomb, YX16, Tasered him.

YX16 said he did not notice the device in the “heat of the moment” and only saw it after his colleague opened fire, shouting at members of the public to “get the f*** out of here”.

The third member of their crew, WS5, said he believed they were all going to die as Khan shouted “Alllahu akbar,” meaning “God is great,” at him.

“I thought: ‘That’s it , I’m not going home, I’m not going to see my family, and I don’t think my friends are either’,” the armed officer told the inquest.

“I remember distinctly, there was a lady pushing a pram, not a care in the world, not knowing what’s going on, and river cruise boats just going underneath the bridge as well, I was concerned for their safety.

“I’ve seen IEDs, what devastation they can cause. If it hadn’t had blown the whole bridge up, the massive side walls would have collapsed on top of other people and caused death or serious injury.”

After being shot by YX99, Khan continued moving for several minutes, at one point trying to get up.

He was shot 12 times over an eight-minute period after more armed officers arrived on the scene.

An officer who shot at Khan four times, AZ99, described the “surreal” moment he saw Khan fall back but then put his hand to his head.

“He pulled his hand away to look for blood,” the officer added. “All I could think was: 'Why aren't you dead?”'

A pathologist said that many of the wounds missed Khan’s vital organs, but that three shots that hit his thoracic aorta, lung and kidneys caused catastrophic bleeding.

Khan was pronounced dead at the scene and the inquest jury found that he was lawfully killed.

Separate inquests into the deaths of his victims, Jack Merritt and Saskia Jones, previously concluded that they were unlawfully killed by Khan.

Jurors found that failures by the security services and authorities who were monitoring Khan following his release from prison, after a terror sentence, contributed to their deaths.

Read More

Fishmongers’ Hall attack inquest: Terrorist was lawfully killed by police, inquest finds

Fishmongers’ Hall terrorist Usman Khan was shot 12 times by armed police, inquest hears

Fishmongers’ Hall terror attack: ‘Bright stars’ killed in knife rampage were ‘wonderful young people’

Fishmongers’ Hall terror inquests: ‘Failures’ by security services contributed to deaths, inquest finds