The acting head of the Metropolitan Police who witnessed an officer being stabbed by terrorist Khalid Masood stayed in his car and locked the doors because he was without protective equipment, an inquest heard.
Sir Craig Mackey, now deputy commissioner of Scotland Yard, was being driven out of the Palace of Westminster after a meeting with Policing Minister Brandon Lewis, when the attack broke out on March 22 last year.
Masood, 52, struck pedestrians on Westminster Bridge with a hired 4x4 before crashing it into the perimeter fence near the Houses of Parliament.
He then ran through Carriage Gates and stabbed unarmed PC Keith Palmer to death.
The inquest into Masood’s death heard that Sir Craig, then acting Scotland Yard chief, and his colleagues locked the car doors because they had “no protective equipment and no radio”.
The officer told the jury how he had heard an “abnormally loud bang” that he feared was an explosion, before seeing Masood, with a butcher’s knife in his hand, attack PC Palmer.
“There was quite a lot of confusion about what was going on. Clearly the way that the male came in and the purposeful way he came, he was clearly a threat,” Sir Craig told the Old Bailey.
The senior officer saw the constable suffer “two determined stab wounds”.
He said: “I could see PC Palmer moving backwards and him going down.”
Sir Craig, who retires in December, added: “The attacker had one of those looks where, if they get you in that look, they would be after you.
“He seemed absolutely focused on getting further down and attacking anyone who was in his way.”
If anyone had got out, the way this Masood was looking, anyone who got in his way would have been a target Sir Craig Mackey
He told the jury: “The thing that still shakes me about the attack is that it was 80-plus seconds in total. It didn’t feel like that, it felt an awfully long time.”
Masood was shot by a close protection officer after killing PC Palmer.
Asked what his reaction was following the gunshots, Sir Craig said: “First and foremost I was a police officer so I went to open the door to get out.
“One of the PCs, quite rightfully, said: ‘Get out, make safe, go, shut the door,’ which he did, and it was the right thing to do.
“That’s when I thought: ‘I have got to start putting everything we need in place. We have got no protective equipment, no radio, I have got two colleagues with me who are quite distressed,’ so we moved out.”
Sir Craig told jurors it was his “instinct” to get out of the car, but he was in a short-sleeved shirt with no equipment following the ministerial meeting.
“I was conscious my two colleagues were not police officers. If anyone had got out, the way this Masood was looking, anyone who got in his way would have been a target,” he said.
“I think anyone who came up against that individual would have faced serious, serious injury, if not death.”
The inquest continues.