London Bridge attackers lawfully killed by police, inquest jury concludes
Khuram Butt, Rachid Redouane, and Youssef Zaghba were armed with ceramic knives and had fake suicide belts strapped around their waists.
Britain’s most senior officer has hailed the “tremendous bravery and compassion” of the police and public alike as a jury found the London Bridge terrorists were lawfully killed.
Khuram Butt, 27, Rachid Redouane, 30, and Youssef Zaghba, 22, mowed down pedestrians on the bridge before stabbing random members of the public around Borough Market, killing eight and seriously injuring 48 more.
They were armed with ceramic knives and had fake suicide belts strapped around their waists during the marauding attack on the evening of June 3 2017.
Unarmed police officers, medics and members of the public rushed in to help save lives during the attackers’ rampage around Borough Market.
In under 10 minutes, Butt, Redouane and Zaghba were shot dead after confronting armed officers in Stoney Street.
The Old Bailey heard that the City of London Police officers shouted warnings and opened fire as Butt, Redouane and Zaghba came at them.
Fearing Butt and Redouane could still detonate explosive devices as they lay injured, the police officers shot at them again, jurors were told.
A bomb disposal expert told the court he only realised the suicide belts were fake after he cut them off the dead bodies and held them up.
Jurors deliberated for three-and-a-half hours to conclude that all three attackers were lawfully killed by police after they “ignored clear warning shouts”.
Speaking outside the Old Bailey, Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick paid tribute to the “tremendous courage and professionalism” of the armed officers.
Faced with an “appalling” scene, they acted “calmly, quickly and in accordance with the training”, she said.
Ms Dick said: “Both armed and unarmed officers should take great pride that in the face of the most extreme danger they quickly stopped the three criminals from continuing their murderous attack.
“These dreadful events showed us the very worst of humanity but it also showed us the very best as well.
“What stood out during these inquests head and shoulders above all else were the acts of tremendous bravery and compassion by the public and emergency services.
“The response that night under the most extreme and chaotic circumstances was quite simply extraordinary.”
Commander Karen Baxter, of City of London Police, praised her armed officers who stopped the attackers within 10 seconds of arrival and “undoubtedly saved the lives of others”.
“Their actions that night spoke of the dedication to the public and colleagues, unflinching courage which is without question remarkable.”
She said the City of London Police was both “humbled and grateful for their selfless acts”.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “Today’s inquest verdicts are an opportunity to pay tribute to the police officers, those off duty and the many members of the public who bravely confronted the attackers and showed unstinting courage in the face of such danger and terror.”
During the inquest, jurors visited the spot in Stoney Street where Butt, Redouane and Zaghba died and heard dramatic accounts of the final moments.
Pc Sam Balfour, 25, and Pc Bartek Tchorzewski, 36, were among unarmed officers who tracked the attackers through Borough Market.
In an interview coinciding with the conclusion of the inquest, Pc Tchorzewski said: “We were just thinking about stopping them. Assume the worst and you try to think what you may encounter and what we will do.
“But to be honest nothing can prepare you for that. No briefings.”
Pc Balfour said: “I was quite aware walking down they could spring out at us at any second.”
When armed police arrived on the scene, Pc Balfour feared he was in the line of fire and might get shot himself.
He said: “We started to shout, ‘That’s them, that’s them’, pointing out those terrorists, ‘Shoot them’.”
An armed officer identified only as BX46 told jurors he shouted words to the effect of “armed police, stand still, drop the knife”, believing he was in immediate danger as Butt came at him.
He said: “I believe his intention was to use the knife and stab me, kill me and get hold of my weapons.
“At this point I was aware that around his torso he was wearing an improvised explosive device.
“I already knew he had a knife and he was a threat to my life but now he was an even bigger threat, even with one or two metres a detonation would be fatal to colleagues, members of the public, anyone in the location.
“So I aimed my rifle towards the male and I was moving back quickly and I moved the fire selector lever to fire and I pulled the trigger.”
His colleague BX44 also shot at Butt but had to break away to shoot at Redouane as he bore down on another colleague, BX45.
He said: “I carried on firing until I had to deal with the third threat of Youssef Zaghba who was on top of me.
“I was backing away trying to create a reactionary gap when I fired and fell backwards, and as I fell backwards I fired and from the floor I fired through my legs up to his chest. I thought he was about to kill me.”
Pc Iian Rae said he went to handcuff Redouane as he moved on the ground while his colleague Pc Tim Andrews handcuffed an injured Butt.
Pc Rae said: “His arms and legs were moving and I knew he had an IED (improvised explosive device) strapped to him.
“I did not know they were fake. I had to make a split-second decision – if I don’t go and do something there is going to be a lot more lives lost.
“I had to handcuff him and stop him from detonating that device, if they were real or not.
“As I went over there to handcuff that person I was shouted at by firearms officers. They have told me to get out and I have taken their advice and I ran.”
The firearms officers then used “lethal force” to avert the danger that the terrorists would detonate explosive devices, jurors heard.
Pc Rae, 51, who was called on to protect the public in the wake of the 7/7 London bombings in 2005, was one of a number of officers recognised for their bravery.
He said police teamwork on the night of the London Bridge attack was “magnificent”.
A separate inquest concluded victims Xavier Thomas, 45, Chrissy Archibald, 30, Sara Zelenak, 21, James McMullan, 32, Kirsty Boden, 28, Alexandre Pigeard, 26, Sebastien Belanger, 36, and Ignacio Echeverria, 39, were unlawfully killed.