A POLICE officer might not have shot dead an unarmed man if senior commanders had competently organised a firearms deployment, a public inquiry has found.

Father-of-two Anthony Grainger, from Bolton, was behind the wheel of a stolen Audi in Culcheth, Cheshire, when a Greater Manchester Police (GMP) officer, referred to in court as Q9, fired his Heckler & Koch MP5 submachine gun.

During 15 weeks of evidence in 2017, Q9 told Liverpool Crown Court from behind a screen that he believed Mr Grainger had reached down as if to grab a firearm.

But the inquiry heard that no firearms were found on Mr Grainger or in the stationary vehicle in n a public car park off Jackson Avenue in the early evening of March 3 2012.

Grainger, aged 36, and one of his two passengers, David Totton, had for some weeks been the subject of a GMP operation - Operation Shire - which was investigating their suspected involvement in commercial robberies.

Greater Manchester Police have now been passed a copy of the report, and say that the force "does not set out on any policing operation with the intention of firearms being discharged."

They have issued a statement, emphasising that the findings of the report will be considered with the "utmost care, attention and reflection", to assess what more can be done to improve the safety of police firearms operations.

In his report, Judge Thomas Teague QC concluded: "Q9 shot Mr Grainger in the honestly held belief that he was reaching for a firearm with the intention of discharging it at Q9's colleagues. That belief was, however, incorrect.

"When Mr Grainger disobeyed Q9's instruction to show his hands, he was probably reaching for the driver's door handle in order to get out of the Audi.

"Had GMP's firearms commanders adopted disruption as a tactical option, as they should have done, they would have avoided the risks occasioned by decisive intervention.

"Had they planned, briefed and conducted the deployment competently, Q9 would have been less likely to misinterpret Mr Grainger's actions and might not have shot him."