SHOT in the face at point-blank range, Newcastle traffic cop David Rathband
knew he had just seconds left to raise the alarm on his patrol car radio.
But the 43-year-old PC had been blinded in the attack by gunman Raoul Moat –
who was reloading his shotgun to finish him off.
Today, in the second exclusive extract from his book Tango 190, David tells
how only a split-second reflex and a powerful vision of his family prevented
his certain death.
MOAT had got me right between the eyes.
I was aware that blood was spraying everywhere but all I could concentrate on
was the sound within my skull.
It was as if I’d put my head in a big silver drum and someone was rasping my
face from the forehead down to my throat with an angle grinder. The noise
I knew Moat was still there lurking and I knew in the seconds that followed I
had to save my skin.
I had a good sense of where everything was in the patrol car and I was trying
to hit the little red triangle – the emergency button.
My brain was telling me I could see it but my fingers couldn’t locate it. I
was in serious trouble and worse was to follow. With the reverberations of
the gunshot splintering my head, I heard my blood spraying over the
dashboard and felt its warmth as it soaked through my clothing.
Half of my face felt like it was hanging out and the impact of the shot had
forced me into the footwell.
Then Moat came again. He had been waiting to see if I was dead. I don’t think
he really expected me to sit up again but he’d reloaded.
For some reason, something made me raise my left arm to cover my face – it
would save my life. He fired a second time, aiming at my throat as soon as I
The flesh beneath my left shoulder took all the blast. The second shot,
straight through the glass, meant I was probably looking at minutes left
rather than hours. Moat would have been convinced I was finished.
I had slumped back into the same position he would have seen me in after the
“I’ve got to find the gear lever,” I told myself. I needed to find the little
red or yellow push-to-talk button Velcroed on the side of the stalk. This
would activate the radio. This was my last chance.
I was playing dead – I knew that if he saw me move he would shoot again. He
wanted me dead.
My left hand inched slowly towards the lever and pressed hopefully into the
darkness. My joy turned to agony instantly. I couldn’t get on the damn
thing. Another cop was already on the radio, booking off from his shift. He
seemed to take for ever. Eventually the radio went live but even then I was
still in trouble because the mic in the Volvo is situated by the interior
light in the roof of the car.
I knew I had to turn my face to be heard or I would be talking to the
I felt groggy with the pain and the noise and not sure if Moat was still there
“I’ve been shot. I need urgent assistance,” I whispered.
Nothing. Exhausted, I let go of the button. The radio fell deadly quiet.
This was the lowest moment of my life. I lay there, lonely and alone. No
longer a cop, just me, abandoned and helpless.
One of my traffic colleagues broke the silence. “Did he just say he’s been
Nothing happened for 15 seconds. Then the radio picked up again.
“LB, he’s just said he’s been shot. Find out where David is on his satnav. Do
a GPS on him,” I heard.
My loneliness lifted. If I could hang on, they would come and find me. It
reinvigorated me. I knew if they took much longer than that I would bleed to
I managed to hit the radio again but in my hurry I gave out the wrong
location. It was to be the last thing I did – but at least now they would
It was Tango 190. My world turned to blackness.
I can only recall that my wife Kath, my daughter Mia and my son Ashley
appeared before me. There was no sound, no wind, no bright lights, no
Kath was standing far away to the left of the kids. Mia seemed small, about
half the size of Ash, who was huge.
He drifted his six-foot figure from left to right and began to pull at me
using his right hand.
I attach no religious significance to any of this but I can’t help but wonder
if Ash came back for me in some sort of parallel moment.
Sirens entered my consciousness. My colleagues Nathan Crain, Paul Beavis and
Steve Winn were among the first to arrive. I also heard another voice which
I now know was Shaun Wright, a paramedic. “Keep still, I’m trying to put
something on your face,” Steve urged me frantically. “What’s his name?”
“It’s David, it’s David,” said Nathan.
“I can’t keep pushing his face. I’m scared of putting my fingers in his
brain,” said Steve.
I could hear the ambulance trolley being wheeled closer to the car.
“We’re going to struggle to get him out of the car,” I heard someone say.
I remember thinking that there was no way I was going to die there.
I could never leave Kath and the kids with their dad dead in the car for as
much as two days while the investigating team were doing their scene
While they argued about me, I found some mental strength to manoeuvre my right
leg on to the tarmac. Shaun held my left shoulder beneath my armpit and as
he pulled me I stepped up out of the car towards the stretcher.
“He’s getting out of that himself,” I heard a disbelieving Nathan say.
Nothing else in my body worked but I knew I wanted to walk. The top half of my
body was gone. I was like a dangly string puppet, like somebody fainting.
As soon as I hit the stretcher I let go of the power in my legs. Holding both
of Shaun’s arms tightly I begged him: “Please don’t let me die. Tell my wife
I love her.” I still remember “seeing” the ambulance with the lights on
while Shaun was talking to me. My brain was probably just snatching at
familiarities without any particular foundation.
I was blind from the moment I was shot, medics have confirmed. But there seems
to be a disparity between mind and time. My brain was offering me a few last
To this day I will always be grateful to my colleagues and the other people
who came to my aid, with no thought for their own safety, despite there
being a mad gunman on the loose.
At the hospital I was given Bed One in the Resus Room. I had been here many
times before – this was the room where people came to die.
I was woken by a rubbing sensation on my chest. Kath was to my right and I
could hear the temporary Chief Constable, Sue Sim, to my left.
“I’m sorry,” I cried to Kath.
I thought I could see them. I knew my right eye was gone. I had felt it being
sucked out, like a balloon filled with water being squeezed through your
I was sure I had protected my left one by moving my head quickly away from the
“You’ve got nothing to be sorry for, it’s not your fault,” she replied. I
could barely reply – so many tubes were in and out of me. I knew the
implications of what had happened. It was clear what this would do to our
life. That’s the only reason I said what I said. I wasn’t apologising
because I had done anything wrong.
Kath had arrived at 1.40am, knowing only that I had been badly injured. Before
she entered the room, two nurses had gestured that they were cleaning me by
making a circular motion with the hand around the face. It was a poor way
for Kath to find out.
She was holding it together, drawing on her experience as a nursing manager to
get through. She would have wanted to pick up the clipboard by the bed but
that would have been unprofessional in her eyes.
Anyway, she didn’t need to. She could see how bad I was.
Ashley arrived at 3.30am and Mia much later in the day. Kath left the
Intensive Care Unit to find her shaking like a leaf, with all the colour
drained out of her.
She had warned her, of course, that I was really poorly and not to be
“Daddy, it’s Mia,” she said and held my hand for 20 minutes.
Lying on my bed in the Intensive Care Unit, I didn’t even know my little girl
Adapted by BEN JACKSON
PC David Rathband and Tony Horne. Tango 190: The Gateshead Shootings And
The Hunt For Raoul Moat by PC David Rathband is published by Biteback
Publishing on July 5 at 15.99.
Sun readers can buy the book for the special price of 14.39 including free
pp. To order call 0845 271 2136 or go to thesunbookshop.co.uk.
Article source: http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/features/3662896/My-daughter-held-my-hand-and-said-Daddy-its-Mia-I-didnt-even-know-she-was-there.html