A police marksman who shot and killed an armed gunman has been cleared by an independent inquiry.

Alistair Bell, 42, died after a six-hour stand-off at his home in Cockley Hill Lane, Kirkheaton, in December 2010.

Bell, who had fired on five unarmed police officers injuring one, suffered two fatal gunshot wounds.

Unarmed police had gone to Bell’s home to arrest him after he made threats to kill.

After shots were fired, a major police operation swung into action.

After Bell’s death, West Yorkshire Police referred the matter to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).

The IPCC looked at the appropriateness of the initial police response, the circumstances of the containment operation and whether the use of lethal force was justified.

An inquiry report just published cleared the officer and said the force response had been correct and there were no lessons to learn from what happened.

In January, a inquest jury also found the officer’s actions “justified”. Jurors at Bradford heard three weeks of evidence before delivering a narrative verdict.

The inquest was told how armed police surrounded Bell’s home on the evening of December 27 and negotiators were brought in to speak to him.

Officers came under “sustained fire” over a “prolonged period” and Bell was repeatedly told to give himself up.

He responded by saying he wanted to go out in a “blaze of glory”.

Shortly before 5.30am the following morning Bell appeared on the stairs pointing a pistol.

He shouted at officers: “This is only going to be a fire fight. I’ve served 17 years in jail and I’m not going to go back there. We are going to fire to the death.”

As Bell shuffled downstairs towards the damaged front door sweeping the gun from side to side the officer, identified only as D20, fired three shots.


A head shot killed him and a shot to the chest was potentially fatal.

The IPCC report said the initial decision to send unarmed officers to arrest Bell “appears to be sound” and was a “proportionate response to the perceived threat.”

When armed police were called and the operation scaled up, sufficient resources were deployed and “police officers ensured the area around Alistair Bell’s house was securely contained and that the safety of neighbours was preserved.”

The report’s conclusion added: “In the course of this incident, police officers took reasonable decisions based on the circumstances and information received.”

Officers attempted to “engineer a peaceful resolution” but Bell “did not respond in a positive manner.”

The report went on: “Bell continued to discharge live rounds in the direction of police officers and neighbouring properties during the course of the containment on his home.

He also made threats to those present regarding his possession of weapons, ammunition and explosives and his willingness to use them.”

The inquiry cleared officer D20 who said he “feared for his life and had no alternative” but to shoot.

The report added: “D20 was appropriately qualified and trained by West Yorkshire Police.

“His actions were consistent with his training and the legislation that supports the use of force and firearms in particular.”

Cindy Butts, the IPCC’s Commissioner for West Yorkshire, said: “The police shooting of Mr Bell came after hours of talks to try and persuade an armed man to surrender himself failed.

“A police officer had already been shot and threats to use explosives were made before Mr Bell was fatally shot.”

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