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The officer in charge of the police operation to capture Raoul Moat, who died following a stand-off with police in Rothbury, said the use of experimental Taser weapons gave them ``one chance'' to bring him in alive.
Police feared the gunman intended to end his rampage of violence by attacking police marksmen and committing ``suicide by cop''.
Northumbria Police Assistant Chief Constable Steve Ashman was offered the use of the non-lethal X-Rep Taser shotguns on the day detectives discovered Moat intended to kill innocent members of the public for every ``lie'' printed about him in the press.
The pump action shotgun style weapons would enable officers to shoot Moat from a greater distance than standard police issue X-26 Taser pistols. They also delivered an electric charge for longer than the X-26, the inquest at Newcastle Crown Court heard.
Mr Ashman, who led Operation Bulwark, the mission to find and capture the fugitive, said: ``Moat had to face justice for what he had done but I also had a duty to protect his life.
``An opportunity had been presented to me, one I had not thought of but one which I was duty bound to examine because it gave us possibly the only chance, possibly one chance and one chance only, a single chance to apprehend him without using lethal force, without shooting and killing him.''
Cross-examining for the Moat family, Andrew Straw asked whether Mr Ashman was aware Pro-Tect, the company which supplied the X-12 shotgun Tasers and X-rep Taser cartridges, was in breach of its Home Office licence.
He replied: ``No.''
Mr Straw said: ``Shooting someone (with the X-rep) could have had catastrophic consequences. If you do not know the risk, is it not like hitting someone with a plank of wood?''
Mr Ashman replied: ``I thought, let's try it, because if we don't right now there's only two outcomes; he kills himself or we kill him.''