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Police chief denies claims about operation that led to unarmed man's shooting

An assistant chief constable has denied that an operation which led to the fatal shooting of an unarmed man was "brought to a head" because of pressure on resources.

Anthony Grainger, 36, from Bolton, was shot by a Greater Manchester Police firearms officer through the windscreen of a stolen Audi in a car park in Culcheth, Cheshire, on March 3 2012.

Assistant Chief Constable Steven Heywood, who now works for the North West Counter Terrorism Unit, gave evidence for a second day at a public inquiry into Mr Grainger's death at Liverpool Crown Court.

The inquiry has heard Mr Grainger was under surveillance by the force as part of Operation Shire, set up to target an organised crime gang believed to be conspiring to commit armed robberies, and officers believed he and others were planning a robbery at a premises in Culcheth.

Mr Heywood gave firearms authority for the operation on March 1 2012.

Jason Beer QC, counsel to the inquiry, said notes made by Mr Heywood on the day appeared to show that the only tactical options were discussed for the operation were intervention or interception.

But Mr Heywood said other options, such as doing nothing or placing an armed vehicle in Culcheth as a deterrent, were discussed but didn't seem appropriate.

Mr Beer said an organisational review of Operation Shire, requested by Mr Heywood in January that year, suggested there was a concern about the "expenditure of precious resources".

He said: "By March 1, was there a feeling by you that this operation had run long enough?"

He asked if the operation "needed to be brought to a head".

Mr Heywood said: "We have had operations in the past that have run longer."

He said he thought it was "professionally appropriate" to order an organisational review of the operation.

He added: "If this hadn't culminated in the outcome it did would we have continued? Probably."

Mr Heywood was also due to give some evidence in closed session at the hearing on Thursday.

Following Mr Grainger's death, David Totton, Robert Rimmer and Joseph Travers, all from Manchester, were charged with conspiracy to rob but were found not guilty after a trial at Manchester Crown Court in September 2012.

The inquiry, chaired by Judge Thomas Teague QC, is expected to run until April 21.

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