One of the first police officers to head to the scene considered hitting Sheku Bayoh with his van, the inquiry into his death has heard.
PC Craig Walker said the “overt” nature of the incident and the proximity to a psychiatric unit left him concerned that Mr Bayoh was a risk to the public.
He told the Angela Graham QC that he considered “anything to preserve life, if possible”.
He denied that Mr Bayoh’s race had influenced his thought process – telling the inquiry that Mr Bayoh’s “muscular” frame and the fact he was reported as having a knife were the main considerations.
However he confirmed that upon arrival Mr Bayoh was “calm-ish” and did not have a knife in his hand, though he said they were unsure if Mr Bayoh had it concealed.
PC Walker and partner PC Alan Paton were diverted to Hayfield Road from a routine call in the area of Nicol Street, around two miles away, and arrived at 7.20am.
Preservation of life was main concern
En route the PC Walker discussed using the vehicle to strike Mr Bayoh.
Asked by Ms Grahame if this is something officers are taught, he said: “If there’s an immediate risk to life then basically anything to preserve life is possible.
“If we turned up and he was directly behind someone brandishing the knife, about to stab them – in order to save someone’s life.
“I’m not talking about … striking him at 60mph, (just) enough to move him away.
“It was just another one of the options I considered on the route up.
“Given the nature of the call – the large knife, the fact it was passed down that he was chasing people.”
However he said he “hadn’t had to resort to that” at any point in his 17 years in the force.
Nationwide fears of terror attack on police
Earlier in the session PC Walker said he had considered whether the suspect was attempting to draw police to the area.
He said: “At the time the terror threat to the police was severe and that an attack on the police was highly likely.
“My initial concern was that the overt nature of what he was doing, maybe he was looking for the police to get there.
“(We were) just joining the dots on the possibilities of what we might be dealing with.
“We had to bear in mind that there was intelligence that some person or group of people were looking to cause harm to police.
“It was just another scenario to be mindful of but ultimately you can only deal with what you get when you get there.”
‘A dangerous game’
Asked if he would have had the same concerns if the person had been white, he said: “Yes. The threat was for an attack on the police.”
He said waiting and assessing the situation would have been ” a dangerous game to play”.
He said: “I don’t see what the advantage would have been to that.
“Although there was no one present at the time we arrived, there’s a row of houses on one side, there’s passing vehicles.
“Just because he wasn’t doing anything there, I don’t think it would have reflected too well on the police if we’d parked up and watched him and someone came out of their house and he attacked that person whilst we were parked up and watching that happen.
“It makes much more sense to take advantage of the fact he doesn’t appear to be in possession of the knife at that point, approach him, try and communicate him and then bring him into custody.
“The scene could change at any moment. Just because we didn’t see anyone didn’t mean there wasn’t somebody walking through he path behind the trees.
“Ultimately it was reported that he was in possession of a knife and chasing after people, so he needs to be brought under control.
“You could wait until it becomes a risk and by that point its too late – that’s a dangerous game to play.
“If you can get somebody under control I don’t see why you would put other people at risk so you could observe.”
CS spray deployed
PC Walker said his partner Alan Paton attempted to engage with Mr Bayoh but he was unresponsive and continued to walk towards him.
PC Paton then used his CS spray but fell victim to the wind blowing it into his own face.
While his colleague was incapacitated, PC Walker called out to Mr Bayoh, who then turned towards him.
He said: “I told him to stay there, drop any weapons. (There was) no reply, just kept walking straight towards me.
“We had numerous credible witnesses stating he was in possession of a knife, a big knife. He’s coming towards us, he’s not engaging with us, he’s got a stare about him – it felt like a dangerous situation.
“He was closing the gap on me rapidly, so the spray was deployed.”
Asked if he feared for his life, he said: “At that point yes – for injury. Definitely.”
The inquiry, before Lord Bracadale, continues.