Armed officers kept shooting the 2017 London Bridge attackers because they thought they were wearing explosive vests, an inquest has heard.
Det Supt Rebecca Riggs said police withdrew after gunning down the knifemen, but had to fire extra shots when they saw they were “still moving”.
People hiding in a nearby pub were injured by shrapnel and a stray bullet.
The officers arrived in such a hurry that they left their car’s handbrake off and it rolled down the street.
The Old Bailey inquest into the death of the eight victims heard armed officers from City of London Police shot Khuram Butt, Youssef Zaghba and Rachid Redouane after they drove a van into pedestrians, stabbed others, and confronted unarmed police officers shouting “Allahu Akbar” on 3 June 2017.
‘In harm’s way’
Other armed officers arrived on the scene and withdrew when Butt and Zaghba had discarded their jackets to reveal fake suicide vests, Det Supt Riggs said.
“They could see that the attackers were still moving,” she added.
“They believed they were going to activate the explosive devices they were wearing and they fired a number of shots.”
Neil McLelland, who was looking out of the window of the nearby Wheatsheaf pub, was hit in the head by a bullet and fell to the ground, while five other people were injured by shrapnel from the shooting.
The court heard the officers then put “themselves in harm’s way” to evacuate the pub, taking Mr McLelland and others to safety.
Mr McLelland survived his injuries.
The second day of the inquest was also told one victim was killed after he tried to beat the attackers with his skateboard.
Det Supt Riggs said Spaniard Ignacio Echeverria, 39, had been cycling with friends when he came across PC Wayne Marques and PC Charlie Guenigault trying to tackle the knifemen.
The officers had stepped in to help Oliver Downing and Marie Bondeville, who had been hurt by the trio.
Mr Echeverria, an HSBC financial crime analyst, ran across to help and swung his board at one of the killers but was knocked to the ground by Redouane, the inquest was told.
Det Supt Riggs said: “Ignacio got off his bike and ran across to where the two officers were to assist [them].”
“He had taken his board from his rucksack and swung at the attackers and managed to hit them. [Rachid] Redouane retaliated, causing him to fall on the ground,” she added.
“The attackers then set upon him on the ground.”
Counsel to the coroner Jonathan Hough QC added: “It was a brief but furious assault.”
In addition to Mr Echeverria, those killed were James McMullan, 32, from Hackney in London, French trio Xavier Thomas, 45, Alexandre Pigeard, 26, and Sebastien Belanger, 36, Chrissy Archibald, 30, and Australians Sara Zelenak, 21, and Kirsty Boden, 28.
Extreme acts of bravery
BBC reporter Marie Jackson, at the inquest
The raw emotion felt on day one of the inquest gave way to the detail and facts of the attack on day two.
But the bald facts revealed much.
The figure of 48 people seriously injured was brought to life as the court heard their names for the first time and the nature of their injuries, many of whom were stabbed multiple times.
The court was shown dozens of CCTV images that mapped the attackers’ movements as they plucked their victims at random from Borough Market’s streets, cafes and restaurants.
We also learned of extreme acts of bravery.
Some officers broke with a “hot zone” protocol to stay out of unsafe environments unless armed.
They knew the attackers were carrying knives and wearing what they thought were suicide vests, but could see the public were at risk and casualties needed help, the court heard.
The inquest continues.