Armed officer describes 'worst nightmare' of facing suspect with gun

Body worn video footage of armed police being faced by Simon Tait with an imitation firearm at Surlingham in May this year.

Body worn video footage of armed police being faced by Simon Tait with an imitation firearm at Surlingham in May this year. - Credit: Norfolk Police

An armed police officer called to a Norfolk pub car park after a man was seen with a rifle has described his relief at being able to bring the incident to a safe conclusion.

Simon Tait, 38, was jailed for four years and four months at Norwich Crown Court last week after having admitted possession of an imitation firearm, assaulting an emergency worker and sending a letter/communication with intent to cause distress on May 23 this year.

Simon Tait

Simon Tait - Credit: Norfolk Police

He also admitted an indecent images offence dating back to February this year.

Before Tait, of Coldham Hall, Surlingham, was sentenced at Norwich Crown Court last week, the armed officer provided an impact statement describing the moment he came face to face with the gunman.

Body worn video footage of armed police being faced by Simon Tait with an imitation firearm at Surlingham in May this year.

Body worn video footage of armed police being faced by Simon Tait with an imitation firearm at Surlingham in May this year. - Credit: Norfolk Police

He said: "I’ve been a police officer for more than 12 years. I’ve had a varied career working in various roles from a frontline response officer, drug disruption team and within the Police Support Unit, dealing with large scale disorder.

"I’ve been deployed all over the country as part of this role and have dealt with conflict on a regular basis throughout my career.

"I’ve been assaulted countless times, including almost being run over intentionally by a driver while I was helping a victim who had been assaulted.

"I’ve also been first on scene at a murder, where I tried in vain, to save the victim. The incident on 23 May 2021 was by far the most challenging.

Maps

Coldham Hall where police were called to following reports Simon Tait was making threats with a gun. - Credit: Maps

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"I became an Authorised Firearms Officer in 2017 and later qualified as an Armed Response Vehicle operator, providing spontaneous firearms response to incidents that require it.

"I’m proud to have achieved this role and the responsibility that comes with it.

"I know as part of my role I may have to make life and death decisions and put myself in harm’s way to protect others.

"I also know that in the event of any incident, my actions would be scrutinised in the months and years afterwards to ensure the action taken was necessary.

"My shift prior to the incident had been fairly normal.

"I have a dual working as a roads policing officer in downtime, so had been doing patrols and had dealt with a man for public order offences and was doing paperwork for this matter when the call came in regarding Tait.

Before Tait, of Coldham Hall, Surlingham, was sentenced, the court heard a statement from the armed officer who said: "I’ve been a police officer for more than 12 years.

Body worn video footage of armed police being faced by Simon Tait with an imitation firearm at Surlingham in May this year.

Body worn video footage of armed police being faced by Simon Tait with an imitation firearm at Surlingham in May this year. - Credit: Norfolk Police

"I could immediately sense from the nature of the call and the way the information was being relayed over the radio that Tait was serious about his intention to provoke a police shooting.

"At the time, I didn’t think about the consequences, I just focussed on the job in hand and putting all my training into action. I had armed myself with an AEP launcher (baton round).

"When we arrived, I could see that Tait was holding what appeared to be an M16 style assault rifle.

"While the chances of Tait having access to a genuine weapon and ammunition are extremely rare, I can’t tell whether it’s imitation until it’s in my hands.

"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 a less lethal option facing a potentially lethal firearms because I want to do everything I can to not kill or seriously injure him.

Body worn video footage of armed police being faced by Simon Tait with an imitation firearm at Surlingham in May this year.

Body worn video footage of armed police being faced by Simon Tait with an imitation firearm at Surlingham in May this year. - Credit: Norfolk Police

"After we arrived on scene with Tait, I was so relieved he stumbled as we pulled into the car park. That action probably saved his life because it gave me just enough time to get out of the car and discharge the AEP as he levelled the firearm at me.

"The shot was effective, we were able to safely detain Tait. I was relieved we’d been able to bring the situation to a safe conclusion.

"The extreme nature and the serious risk of Tait’s actions could have had fatal consequences that day.

"Thankfully this is not the sort of incident that me or my colleagues face on a regular basis."


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