Shangri-La shooting: Driver repeatedly ignored warnings to stop
Investigating officer in coroner's inquiry into death of driver in Shangri-La shooting: He repeatedly ignored warnings to stop
The three friends were high on drugs when they were together in the car.
They went looking for prostitutes at Geylang. When they could not find any, they decided to head to Orchard Towers "to look for girls".
But they missed a turn into Claymore Hill and ended up taking a turn at Draycott Drive.
It led them straight to the heart of a heavy police presence in the area of the Shangri-La Hotel, where the 14th Asian Security Summit was being held that weekend.
Barely five minutes later, the driver, Mohamed Taufik Zahar, 34, was dead - after he was fatally shot for ignoring repeated police orders to stop the car.
His two companions, front-seat passenger Mohamed Ismail, 31, and Muhammad Syahid Mohamed Yasin, 26, tried to escape but were arrested in the vicinity later.
The account of what happened that day, which began at about 4.17am on May 31 last year, surfaced yesterday during the coroner's inquiry into Taufik's death.
The court heard that Taufik, who did not have a driver's licence, had died from a gunshot wound to the side of his head.
In total, five shots, directed at the driver, were fired by the two unnamed Gurkha officers - the last of four rounds fired by a Gurkha officer killed Taufik.
During the inquiry, a lawyer for Taufik's next-of-kin asked if the officers could have fired at the car's tyres, engine block or even the driver's hands to stop the vehicle instead.
But Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Roy Lim from the Criminal Investigation Department told the court that a car could still "move to its intended target" even if its tyres were shot at, because of its rims or run-flat tyres.
Shooting the engine block, which DSP Lim had described as the hardest component on the vehicle, would also not stop a car.
He also told the court that "it's not like in the movies" because it is not easy to shoot moving targets.
"To stop a vehicle successfully, you (need to) take away the subject who's driving the car," he said.
The two Gurkha officers, who made up the Vehicle Counter Assault Team, faced challenges like directing their shots at a small rectangle in which only the silhouette of the driver was visible.
To which Mr Mahendran said: "Therefore, they (the two Gurkha officers) shot to kill."
But DSP Lim denied that was the case because it had taken five shots to incapacitate the driver.
And the two officers had fired the shots only after the car, which had been rented by Taufik's wife, "crossed the threshold" by crashing into the concrete barriers .
DSP Lim explained the intent was not to shoot to kill but to shoot to "neutralise".
Yesterday, in his opening statement, Second Solicitor General Kwek Mean Luck said the police had adopted a high level of security for the 14th Asian Security Summit, given the summit's "significant potential as a prime target for terrorist attacks".
The summit was attended by 227 delegates from around the world including defence ministers, officials and military heads.
Mr Kwek said: "The objective of the Vehicle Check Station (VCS) was to ensure that vehicles entering the event venue's vicinity were not carrying dangerous weapons or VBIED (Vehicle-borne Improvised Explosive Devices) to cause damage to life and property."
But that fateful morning when Taufik crashed his car into the concrete barriers despite repeated warnings by police officers, little was known about the identities of the men in the Subaru, their purpose and the contents of the car.
While closed-circuit television footage showed the car arriving at the security zone and crashing into the concrete barriers, there was no footage of the Gurkha officers firing at the car.
DSP Lim added: "Nobody knows what was on their mind.
"We cannot leave it to chance and hope nothing happens when somebody crashes (into) the barrier."
Investigations revealed that Taufik had a record of theft, robbery and one of impersonating a public servant.
A warrant of arrest had been issued against him for failing to appear in court on May 21 last year.
Similarly, Mohamed and Syahid, have antecedents including drug-related offences.
Both men were arrested with drugs in their possession and later tested positive for drugs.
Nobody knows what was on their minds… We cannot leave it to chance and hope nothing happens when somebody crashes (into) the barrier.
- Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Roy Lim
1 Mohamed Taufik Zahar fails to slow down as he approaches security check area. When he finally stops, a police officer directs him to the Vehicle Check Station (VCS). There are two passengers in the car
2 At the VCS, officers ask the men to wind down their windows. Taufik struggles with the controls. An agitated Muhammad Syahid Mohamed Yasin asks officers why they are being checked. He suddenly shouts: "Jalan! Jalan!" (Malay for go) to Taufik, who drives away.
3 An officer runs alongside the car, shouting for Taufik to stop. Another officer shouts "crash through" to alert others. Taufik crashes into a concrete barrier. An air horn is sounded.
4 Two Gurkha officers move towards the car. Weapons raised, they shout: "Police, stop!" The car turns left towards Shangri-La Hotel.
One Gurkha officer fires at Taufik, hitting the windscreen. As the car continues to veer left, the other Gurkha officer fires two shots at Taufik. He fires two more shots when the car continues to move.
Syahid and the other passenger Mohamed Ismail flee. The car stops on a grass verge. Taufik is slumped in the seat.