Judge commends shoot-out officer
An armed officer has been commended for his "courage and resolve" after risking his life to protect the public during a street shoot out with a Turkish gunman which was caught on dramatic CCTV.
Balaclava-wearing Sedat Meric fired at a north London pool bar four times in a revenge attack before turning his gun on the officer identified only as NC32 who tried to stop him.
Meric then fired seven rounds towards the officer, who ducked for cover behind a car. He only gave himself up after he ran out of bullets.
The 25-year-old and his accomplice Oktay Ayanoglu were found guilty of possessing a firearm and ammunition with intent to endanger life on May 23 last year following a trial at the Old Bailey.
Meric, who worked in a family-run kebab shop, was jailed for 15 years while Ayanoglu, 22, was handed a 12-year prison sentence.
Judge Michael Topolski said it was "miraculous" no-one was injured in the pre-meditated attack on the pool bar.
Commending the National Crime Agency officer NC32, the judge said: "He displayed all that is most creditable of police officers on whom we trust to put their own safety on the back seat for the protection of all the public.
"He acted with courage and resolve - literally in the face of live rounds being fired at him.
"In my judgment he should not only be thanked but highly commended for his bravery that night."
As he sentenced the two north London men, the judge said: "The irony at the heart of the events was that the police were on the streets that night to preserve and protect life while the two of you were there to endanger it.
"This was a pool bar in a busy, densely populated area of north London. It was a mild spring night, the first evening of a bank holiday. There were people on the streets - we saw them on CCTV.
"It is clear there could have been several people injured - or worse."
Meric and Ayanoglu were found not guilty of attempted murder of NC32, while the group's alleged leader, Bulent Eren, was cleared of all offences after the jury decided it could not be certain that he was the man who had stayed by the getaway car and fled before he could be apprehended.
The court had heard that NCA officers were at the scene to protect Eren from a potential threat which may have emanated from the bar and had not expected him to arrive there armed.
Eren, 35, from Liverpool, and others were involved in a "bitter and violent argument" with a gang associated with West Green Road Pool Bar in Haringey, jurors were told.
The prosecution said they had gone to the club for an "armed revenge attack" following a fight in Tottenham less than 24 hours earlier, involving baseball bats, billiard cues and metal poles.
Giving evidence from behind a screen, NC32 recalled the dramatic gun fight, saying that he returned fire because he felt his life and the lives of members of the public were in danger.
He told jurors: "I thought he fired at least two shots.
"My reaction was of shock and having to make a decision on what I was going to do and his reaction was to turn back the way he had come from.
"I started to run across the road.
"While I was running across the road, I drew my pistol from my right hip and shouted to him 'Armed police, stand still'."
He was about 15 to 20 metres away when the gunman reacted, NC32 said: "He turned to face me and he brought his pistol up and fired at me.
"I returned fire with a single round."
The gunman carried on running into Carlingford Road and the officer made the decision to get into some cover on the opposite side of the road behind a car, the court heard.
He said: "As I moved down the side of the vehicle I am bobbing up and down.
"I can see the male on the opposite pavement and he is looking at me.
"I continue to shout 'Armed police' and 'Police' and got to the end of the first vehicle and he fires again at me."
Asked how many times he was shot at, the officer said: "It just sounds and feels like a continuous round being fired at me.
"I continue shouting 'Armed police', hoping he would stop firing, and it was at this point that I fired again at the male on the opposite side of the road.
"He immediately returned fire again at me.
"The firing had stopped.
"I came up and looked towards him and could see he was throwing the gun to his right-hand side and putting his hands in the air.
"He did so saying something to the effect 'OK, OK'.
"It was a gesture of surrender."
The officer said he realised he would have to go towards the gunman and get control of him as none of his colleagues had yet arrived.
"I had my gun on aim and closed the gap towards him and I told him to turn and put his hands up against the wall," he said.
Prosecutor Edward Brown QC asked NC32 why he fired.
The officer replied: "Because I thought I was in danger of my life and I believed, if he had carried on, any member of the public was in danger of their life."
Meric was apprehended along with Ayanoglu, who had tried to run back to the Vauxhall Signum which was later found burnt out.
The court heard that 11 spent cartridges from Meric's self-loading pistol littered the pavement and road after the incident and bullets were found embedded in the pool club building.
On the day of the shoot-out, the Arctic Monkeys were performing at nearby Finsbury Park and people were sitting drinking on a grassy bank opposite the pool bar.