Shooting of Stephen Waldorf

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Stephen Waldorf was a 26-year-old film editor who was shot and severely injured by Metropolitan Police officers in London, England, on 14 January 1983, when he was misidentified as an escaped prisoner, David Martin.

Background[edit]

On 5 August 1982 David Martin was caught while breaking into a private cinema in Portman Close, in the West End of London; he was disguised as a security guard but he escaped by shooting his way out, severely wounding a police officer. A month later he was arrested at his last known home address in Crawford Place off Edgware Road, while disguised as a woman, but during a struggle drew two handguns before being shot in the neck by an armed police officer. On 24 December 1982 he escaped from a cell at Marlborough Street Magistrates' Court, and went into hiding. The police were convinced that a Susan Stephens whom Martin had met before his arrest, and who had visited him in prison, was his girlfriend, so she was kept under surveillance. Police suspicions were reinforced when Martin telephoned Stephens several times, and they met to go to the cinema, and later for a meal, in the following weeks.

The shooting[edit]

On the evening of 14 January 1983, police officers in unmarked cars were following a hired Mini in which Stephens was sitting on the back seat, occasionally looking out of the rear window. The driver was Lester Purdey and the front-seat passenger was freelance film editor Stephen Waldorf, whom the police thought was Martin. When the Mini came to a stop because of rush hour traffic congestion in Pembroke Road, Earls Court, a detective was sent forward to confirm the identity of the front-seat passenger. The only one who knew Martin was Detective Constable Peter Finch, who had been one of the arresting officers when he was detained the previous September, so he approached the car along the pavement on foot with his revolver already drawn. Finch later said that at this point the driver glanced at him through the window, then said something to the passenger, who turned and reached toward the rear seat.

Finch opened fire, shooting twice at the passenger-side rear wheel of the Mini, then four times at Waldorf himself. Detective Constable John Jardine then ran up to the back of the Mini, and fired five shots at Waldorf through the rear window. During the shooting, Purdey jumped out of the car to escape, and Waldorf attempted to follow him, even though he had already been hit several times, and ended up slumped across the driver's seat. Detective Constable John Jardine then fired twice at Waldorf through the open driver's door. Finch, meanwhile, had made his way round to the driver's side, where he leaned into the car, aimed his revolver between Waldorf's eyes and said, "OK, cocksucker," before pulling the trigger, but the gun did not fire. Finding that he had already used all his ammunition, Finch then pistol whipped Waldorf until he lost consciousness.[1][2][3]

Hit five times and severely wounded in his head, abdomen, and liver, the handcuffed and unconscious Waldorf was then hauled by his arms onto the pavement. Stephens, screaming and protesting, was also dragged from the vehicle.[4] Stephens was taken to hospital and treated for injury.

Aftermath[edit]

David Martin was rearrested shortly after the shooting. Sue Stephens had continued to be kept under police surveillance and did not attend a restaurant in Heath Street, Hampstead, north-West London, where she did not meet up with Martin, who had dyed his distinctive blond hair dark. He was challenged by police and ran into Hampstead tube station, ran down the stairs of London's deepest tube station, south along the northbound track where eventually he was arrested at Belsize Park station wthout incident. He had a shotgun hiden inside his coat, and told the driver of a northbound Northern line train that he was a signal engineer. He was found guilty at Old Bailey of the attempted murder of PC Nicolas Carr and was sentenced to life in prison. He died in his prison cell in 1984; it was alleged that he had committed suicide.

Detectives Jardine and Finch stood trial for attempted murder and attempted wounding of Waldorf, but were cleared of all charges in October 1983. Waldorf eventually made a full recovery and was paid £150,000 compensation by the Metropolitan Police. Susan Stephens was also awarded £10,000 for malicious wounding.[5]

Open Fire, a TV drama about David Martin and the shooting of Stephen Waldorf, was made by London Weekend Television and shown on the ITV network on 12 November 1994.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Robert W Gould & Michael J Waldren (1986). London's Armed Police. England: Arms and Armour Press. p. 222. ISBN 9780853688808. 
  2. ^ Waldren, Michael J. (2007). Armed Police, The Police Use of Firearms since 1945. England: Sutton. p. 224. ISBN 0-7509-4637-7. 
  3. ^ "PANORAMA: LETHAL FORCE". BBC News. 
  4. ^ The Independent: The error to force change
  5. ^ "Man shot by police hunting David Martin". BBC News. 14 January 1983. 

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