The man entered the betting shop, or bookmakers, around 18:45 GMT, Friday. He was wearing a gas mask and holding a pistol. When he entered the Ladbrokes branch, in Crownhill Road, customers and staff immediately tackled him. They disarmed him and held him down, but he was still wearing the gas mask. By the time police arrived the situation was well under control but the robber was unconscious. Ambulance crew, and police, tried to resuscitate the man. Twenty minutes later he was declared dead, at the scene. Police did not initially name the man, aged in his 50s. His next-of-kin were informed first.
The BBC reports, 'Chief Inspector Drummond-Smith added: "We have recovered a firearm of sorts, it hasn't been fully examined yet so I'm unable to confirm whether its a replica or a genuine firearm. "This is a very serious incident. We cannot speculate on what has actually taken place here today." "A spokeswoman for the IPCC said it had "received a referral from Devon and Cornwall Police following the death of a man in Plymouth". It added: "A full assessment of the circumstances will now take place and a decision on the level of IPCC involvement will be made in due course.'
Late Saturday afternoon police issued an update. The dead man was named as 50-year-old Alan Levers from Plymouth. The weapon now 'appears to have been an imitation weapon', according to police. The police have described those who tackled Levers as extremely brave.
An Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) investigation will follow. Police investigations will centre on events in the bookmakers. Whilst you are allowed to use 'reasonable force', when threatened, what determines reasonable force is tricky. Vague definitions of 'reasonable force', in the UK, have led to high profile cases. Arrests of people who had defended themselves.What is classed as reasonable force is crucial, but definitions are non-specific.
UK Justice Secretary, Chris Grayling, plans to reform 'reasonable force'. Objectors have reminded the Minster that, "Section 76 of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008 says the degree of force used in self-defence must be "reasonable in the circumstances" as the person acting genuinely believed them to be. The justification of acting "honestly and instinctively", taken from one key judgment widely relied upon, is already embedded in Crown Prosecution Service guidance".