The minutes between gunman Raoul Moat phoning 999 to say he was hunting for police officers and him shooting PC David Rathband in the face are to be the subject of a High Court action.
The officer’s twin brother, Darren, and sister Debbie Essery are taking Northumbria Police to court, claiming the force was negligent in not passing on a warning to staff on patrol that night.
They said that had PC Rathband known about the specific threat, he would not have been sat in his stationary patrol car on a prominent junction above the A1 in Newcastle, and could have kept mobile.
The Rathbands’ legal team have stated in their claim that in the minutes after PC Rathband was shot twice by Moat, senior officers ordered all unarmed police to return to their stations.
On 1 July, 2010, Moat was released from prison after serving a short sentence for assault. The next day, prison staff called Northumbria Police to warn them that Moat’s former girlfriend, Samantha Stobbart, could be at risk from Moat. In the early hours of 3 July, Moat shot Ms Stobbart and murdered her new partner Chris Brown, and went on the run.
Before going on patrol that day, PC Rathband read through a log of information collated by Northumbria Police on the manhunt. He received no express instructions about the ongoing search, his family claimed.
That next night, Moat spoke to a Northumbria Police call handler for almost five minutes, saying he would kill any officer who came near him, that he was not coming in alive and, at one point, that he was hunting for officers.
The family’s claim states that Moat ended the call at 00.34 on 4 July, and PC Rathband was shot at around 00.42.
About two minutes before the shooting, the claim says a Northumbria Police employee phoned a supervisor to ask if “something was going out over the air regarding the threats”.
The Rathband family claim no action was taken.
The father-of-two was blinded after being shot twice, as well as being left with injuries to the face and shoulder. He lost his sense of smell and taste, felt sick every day and lost three stones in weight. The ongoing pain from his injuries also kept him awake at night.
He killed himself in February 2012 aged 44.
The case is being brought on his behalf by his siblings, who are executors of his estate.
The legal team said: “Had the deceased been given any warning that Moat was out hunting for police officers, he would have immediately moved from his highly visible stationary position and … would have kept his vehicle in motion.”
Northumbria Police declined to comment.