11 August 2021

Officer overcome with emotion as he describes Streatham terrorist confrontation

11 August 2021

An undercover police officer broke down in court as he described his fear that he was going to be stabbed by Streatham terrorist Sudesh Amman in the moment before he opened fire at close range.

The officer, known only as BX87 to protect his identity, was one of two armed covert surveillance constables who gave chase as the attacker lashed out randomly at members of the public in a busy south London shopping street while shouting “Allahu Akbar”, Amman’s inquest heard.

The 20-year-old was shot dead when BX87 and his colleague, BX75, opened fire in Streatham High Road, 62 seconds after Amman stole a knife to commit his atrocity on February 2 2020 before turning to confront the pursuing officers.

Sudesh Amman turned to face officers in Streatham High Road and was shot a split second later (Metropolitan Police/PA) (PA Media)

Both men said they feared Amman would attack more people before he was brought to a halt, with BX75 saying he “fired a shot in his chest area” due to fears that he was about to become the terrorist’s next victim.

Giving evidence to the inquest at the Royal Courts of Justice on Wednesday, BX87 said he had closed the gap with Amman to about five metres by the time the pair came face to face in a brief, tense stand-off.

He said: “The blade was pointing towards me.

“As I tried to slow myself, my vision almost was like a cartoon – the blade of the knife almost doubled in size.

“It was a strange feeling. His body was forward. It was pretty clear to me he was intent on attacking me or further members of the public.

Sudesh Amman in Streatham High Road moments before he stole a knife to stab members of the public (Metropolitan Police/PA) (PA Media)

“I continued shouting ‘Armed police, drop the knife’.”

His voice quavering slightly, he added: “I saw Mr Amman take a number of paces towards me, closing the gap further.

“It really dawned on me at this point that I was going to get stabbed.”

The witness then asked for a break.

He later told the inquest he thought Amman would “stab me, attack me, try and kill me” as he charged towards him, and fired three shots.

The covert officer said he kicked the knife out of Amman’s hand and noticed a suspicious device around his waist.

He added: “I thought I was potentially going to get blown up.”

It was later determined to be a “crude” fake.

The remnants of a hoax suicide belt worn by Sudesh Amman (Metropolitan Police/PA) (PA Media)

His colleague, BX75, recalled how he “locked eyes” with Amman before shooting at him with his Glock pistol. The shot missed and struck a shop window.

BX75 said: “I thought he was going to stab me – and kill me. Certainly seriously injure me.”

He then fired two further shots.

He said: “(I thought) that he was going to stab me, attack my colleague, attack anyone who came out of Boots who didn’t know what was going on outside, or turn and go into Boots.

“I was convinced he was making a decision there and then who to attack next.”

He added: “He was so close to me that I was in immediate fear of my life. I fired a shot in his chest area.

“He was moving towards me and to the side. He was in my immediate personal space.

“His action was always going to beat my reaction, if I let him beat my next move.

“Then a colleague fired a shot. Mr Amman remained standing, I saw no visible reaction from him, nothing at all, the threat was still there.

“So I fired a second shot.”

Sudesh Amman was shot by police outside Boots in Streatham High Road (Metropolitan Police/PA) (PA Media)

Amman then fell to the ground, where he was later pronounced dead.

BX87 was initially around 15 metres away from Amman when he emerged from the Low Price Store with a large knife, and said his first thought was that it was “a shoplifting” incident.

He then saw Amman “approach a lady” and “plunge” the blade into her upper back.

He said he thought Amman had inflicted a “fatal” injury on the woman, one of two people the terrorist stabbed. Both survived.

BX87 said Amman “seemed to be running in between pedestrians rather than the line of least resistance”.

He told the inquest: “It was my perception he was stabbing everyone he was close enough to as he ran.”

Sudesh Amman ran along Streatham High Road after stealing a knife from the Low Price Store (Metropolitan Police/PA) (PA Media)

Jonathan Hough QC, counsel to the inquest, asked: “What did you think was going on?”

BX87 replied: “Immediately after he stabbed the lady I heard him shout really clearly ‘Allahu Akbar’.

“It was at this point it dawned on me it was a terror attack and he was looking to attack numerous people.”

Amman had only been released from Belmarsh prison 10 days earlier after serving part of a 40-month sentence for terror offences, despite pleas from police and MI5 to detain him for longer amid concerns that he remained a danger to the public.

Amman, who was of Sri Lankan descent and was raised in Coventry and Birmingham before moving to Harrow in north-west London, was seen buying four small bottles of Irn Bru, some parcel tape and kitchen foil from a nearby Poundland on January 31.

It prompted police to call an emergency meeting at which it was decided to ramp up security rather than arrest him amid fears that he might use the materials to fashion a suicide belt.

Amman struck two days later and was found to be wearing a “crude” explosive device replica, made out of the items he bought at Poundland.

The inquest was adjourned until Thursday.

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