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Sister’s heartbreaking reaction to unlawful killing of brother by police

A man’s tearful sister said his family finally have justice after a jury in his inquest found he was unlawfully killed by police.

The month-long inquest concluded with a jury reaching a verdict that 31-year-old Lewis Skelton’s death was the result of an unlawful killing when he was shot by armed police on November 26, 2016.

Lewis had reportedly been seen carrying an axe and was shot twice in Hull city centre, before he later died in hospital after several hours of surgery, reports Hull Live.

His sister Tia Skelton said on October 15 the verdict confirmed what they “already knew”, adding his final moments “must have been ones of terror and fear”.

Speaking outside Hull Coroner’s Court, she said: “He should never have been taken from us”.

She added: “As a family we have had to wait almost five years for Lewis to have some form of justice.

“Today is a huge day for our family and certainly one of huge emotion for us all. The jury has confirmed what we all knew, the killing of Lewis was wrong and it was unlawful and he should still be with us today.

“It has been incredibly difficult for us to hear and see all the evidence during the inquest. There was nothing to suggest Lewis was aggressive or a danger to anyone on that day.

“He was confused and frightened, his final moments being must have been ones of terror and fear, and that is so hard for us as a family to know.”

She added: “At the time of this incident, there were media reports describing Lewis as a ‘crazed axe man’ and ‘axe wielding’ – descriptions which didn’t come from any witnesses on the day, who simply described him as carrying an axe.

Lewis Skelton

“We question where these descriptions to the media came from, and the motive behind them.

“That is something that has angered us all and we hope the jury’s verdict today can help end such comments about Lewis and place the focus where it should be, on the actions of the police officers who took his life.

“All who have seen and heard the evidence during this inquest will have come to realise those descriptions of Lewis on that day could not have been further from the truth.”

She also extended her gratitude to the jury, after sitting through weeks of evidence in the inquest which hinged on whether the police officer who fired the fatal shots genuinely believed the lives of three workmen nearby were at “imminent risk” of being killed or coming to serious harm.

“We are grateful to the members of the jury who recognised that the people in the wrong that were the officers of Humberside Police, and not Lewis,” she said.

The statement continued: “As a family there’s nothing that we wouldn’t give to have just one more day with Lewis.

“We only wish he was here now for us to be able to tell him how much we all love him. He touched the hearts of every single person he met. There has not been a day since when he hasn’t been on our minds.

The scene of Lewis Skelton's shooting in Francis Street, Hull city centre
The scene of Lewis Skelton’s shooting in Francis Street, Hull city centre

“Lewis had his problems, but who doesn’t. He battled with his mental health for quite some years.

“However, despite the problems or challenges he faced throughout his 31 years of life, he was someone who put others needs before his own, and we will be forever be proud of him for that.

“What happened to Lewis has torn our family apart and broken all our hearts, affecting each and every one of us in unique and different ways. Lewis needed help but he was killed.

“He should never have been taken from us.”

Following this afternoon’s verdict, coroner Oliver Longstaff addressed Lewis Skelton’s family, saying: “The courage and dignity you have shown throughout this is truly humbling and I hope you can accept my complete and sincere condolences.”

Humberside Police said it respected the verdict, but said it was “disappointed and concerned” about the ramifications it may have for frontline officers.

Timeline and location of the incidents which lead to Lewis Skelton being shot dead by police in Hull on November 29, 2016
Timeline and location of the incidents which lead to Lewis Skelton being shot dead by police in Hull on November 29, 2016

Assistant Chief Constable Chris Noble said: “We are disappointed with this conclusion and are concerned that it does not undermine the confidence of officers to act decisively when making split-second decisions to protect the public.”

He added: “Our officers responded to four 999 calls to a man armed with, and waving, an unsheathed axe marching towards the city centre who did not stop despite four attempts to taser him.”

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