Dramatic bodycam footage shows moment police took down gunman
- Credit: Norfolk Police
A Norfolk policeman described the moment he was faced with any firearms officer's "worst nightmare" after being confronted with an armed man but not knowing if the weapon was real or not.
That was the split-second dilemma facing an armed officer and his colleague who were called to Coldham Hall Tavern at Surlingham, near Norwich, following reports of a man dressed in military-style clothing who was armed with what looked like a rifle.
Simon Tait, 38, had gone there that day with an imitation gun intent on provoking a police shooting as he "wanted to be shot dead".
Norwich Crown Court was shown body-worn camera footage from a policeman who attended, not knowing whether or not the weapon was real, before Tait slipped, giving the officer just enough time to select a non-lethal baton round which was fired at the suspect's leg.
That slip, on May 23 this year, saved Tait's life.
During the case heard last week, just days before the tragic events in Plymouth where five people were shot dead before gunman Jake Davison turned the weapon on himself, the officer described the "most challenging" situation he had ever faced.
He said he has to deal with “life and death situations” as part of his role and was "proud to have achieved this role and the responsibility that comes with it" but also knew his actions would be scrutinised in the months and years afterwards.
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He said: "I was faced with any armed officer’s worst nightmare, potentially looking down the barrel of a weapon that could kill me or looking at a plastic toy.
"The weapon that Tait had looked every much a genuine weapon and I’m afforded the right to assume it is a viable firearm.
"It is a daunting prospect knowing that I am about to get out of a car with facing a potentially lethal firearms because I want to do everything I can to not kill or seriously injure him."
The officer said he was "so relieved" Tait slipped as it gave the time to discharge a non-lethal shot but insisted Tait’s actions "could have had fatal consequences that day".
Police arrived after Tait called a member of staff stating “I will come into the pub in a minute, I will be armed”.
They could see Tait in the car park “holding what looked like a weapon”.
A regular had told Tait to “put the weapon down” which he did before later picking it up and pointing it at him.
He said he felt “scared like he never did before” and “genuinely thought he was going to die”.
Tait, of Coldham Hall, Surlingham, appeared for sentence last week having admitted possession of an imitation firearm, assaulting an emergency worker and sending a letter/communication with intent to cause distress.
He also admitted an indent images offence dating back to February this year.
Jailing Tait for a total of four years and four months, Judge Andrew Shaw said Tait had become “completely unstable” due to earlier events that caused him to “want to end your life”.
He said Tait was someone who was "clearly intending a fatal action against you” adding he had created a very serious risk of severe psychological harm to those present as well as a high risk of his own death.
Damien Moore, mitigating, praised the “remarkable bravery” of the police officers who attended adding that “all of this was to end his (Tait's) own life”.
“He wanted to be shot dead. He had no intent to injure the attending officers or indeed anyone else”.
Mr Moore said Tait, who had been abused as a child and had attempted to take his own life previously was a “completely broken and desperate man” who had hit “rock bottom”.
He added he was just “completely unstable” and “emotionally blind to his actions”.
Tait was also made the subject of a 10-year sexual harm prevention order (SHPO) and put on the sex offenders register for 10 years.