JURY REACHES VERDICT IN RICHARD COTTIER INQUEST
Following a ten-day inquest which commenced on 24 May 2021 and ended on 8 June 2021, the jury concluded that Mr Cottier was lawfully killed in circumstances where he was emotionally and mentally distressed.
Richard Cottier was killed by police officers on 9 April 2018 in the early hours of the morning at Esso Petrol station in Romford within seconds of their arrival on scene. He was in possession of an air rifle which had no ammunition and his partner had repeatedly informed the police officers with whom she was in communication that he had no ammunition, that the gun was fake and also that she and her children were in no danger. During the inquest proceedings, the jury heard and saw evidence that despite these indications, the CAD transcript wrongly recorded Ms Cottier saying that she was in danger. This led to an escalation of the incident to a hostage situation and later to a firearm incident.
Melissa Cottier, Richard’s partner, had this to say: ‘Richard was not a volatile man with issues. This is not who he was. He was the most lovely man. A caring father to our three children, a thoughtful partner and the type of person who was willing to help anybody. This moment of illness was unlike him. His loss has left a big impact and he is deeply missed by the whole family‘.
In considering whether this case provides any learning that may be relevant to the prevention of future deaths, it is noteworthy that the Coroner will be writing a paragraph 37 letter to the Metropolitan Police on issues including ensuring that the Met is doing everything possible to make sure that officers switch on their cameras and act in accordance with their policies. In this case at least two of the four attending officers did not switch on their cameras. Another key issue on which the coroner will be addressing the Met regards the accurate recording of conversations in the CAD given the potential for inaccurate recording to result in the escalation of tactics which may lead to a preventable fatal result.
‘Whilst the matters of concern raised here are unlikely to have yielded a different conclusion, the acknowledgment of these issues and the potentially fatal impact that repetition of the same may have in a different case, brings home the importance of families being represented at inquests as well as the importance of having a Coroner who is committed to properly pursuing the investigative task required by the coronial process and putting the family at the centre of proceedings’. (Tolu Agbelusi)
The family were represented by Tolu Agbelusi of Birnberg Peirce and barrister, Stephen Simblet QC of Garden Court Chambers.