Heroic Northamptonshire police officer relives horror moment he was shot in the face

'I didn't know what being shot feels like ... I only accepted it could be quite serious after seeing scans of a ball-bearing in my head'

Monday, 14th June 2021, 4:19 pm

A brave Northampton police sergeant relived the moment he was shot three times in the face tackling an armed man.

Sgt Dave Cayton faced a loaded pistol and a knife after answering what seemed a routine callout in November last year.

He wound up with metal ball bearings lodged in his head and specialists explaining how one missed lodging itself in his brain by millimetres.

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Sergeant Dave Cayton was shot three times tackling an armed man
Sergeant Dave Cayton was shot three times tackling an armed man

Despite being shot, PS Cayton managed to fire his Taser and single-handedly forced his attacker to back down before handcuffing him.

PS Cayton, who still carries a visible scar on his right temple less than an inch away from his eye, said: “Things unravelled very quickly after I arrived at the property.

"I got to the dog leg in the stairs at which point the barrel of the weapon was pointed directly at my face, then he started repeatedly firing at me.

"I remember a loud crack of the weapon discharging feeling an intense burning, pins-and-needles-type pain at the top of my forehead — which I presumed was first impact.

Marshall Coe was jailed for 11 years for shooting Sgt Cayton

"At that point — and it sounds clichéd — everything slows down and senses start playing tricks on you.

“The best way I can explain it is the fight or flight choice and I genuinely believe you don’t get to choose which one your body decides on.

“That’s where the benefit of being a police officer and the training you receive and the morals that you have, come into play.

"So my body’s reaction was, I need to fight, I need to defend myself and I need to protect the other people in this property."

Marshall Coe, 40, was jailed for 11 years for wounding with intent and possession of a firearm with intent to cause fear of violence at Northampton Crown Court last month.

Despite bleeding heavily from his injuries, Sgt Cayton took down the Coe with the help of a Taser all Northamptonshire Police officers now carry.

Each Taser carries two cartridges designed to incapacitate targets.

Sgt Cayton added: "I discharged my Taser at the male — which had zero effect! So I ended up firing both cartridges.

"Again, it's testament to the training we receive that muscle memory made me realise his behaviour had not changed and a second shot was necessary.

"It sounds ridiculous when you've been shot at, but the thing that caused me most fear was I summised he had run out of a ammunition but was still holding a knife.

"I'd already discharged both Taser cartridges so I worked out my tactical options at that stage were somewhat limited."

Back-up officers arrived at the scene in Neuville Way, Desborough, to find the suspect already handcuffed and their colleague wounded.

Sgt Cayton added: "Other officers were on route but it felt like a lifetime, a lot longer than it actually was, before they got there.

"It was only after the gentleman was detained that I realised exactly where I was hurting. A bigger factor was I didn't know what I'd been shot with apart from it was a semi-automatic weapon of some description.

"I'd never been shot before so I didn't know what it feels like or the extent of the injuries.

"I had a CT scan and consultants told me I had a ball-bearing in the side of my head and another in the top of my head.

"It was only when I saw the CT images and I could see the bright white ball showing up for myself that I accepted I'd actually been shot and this, potentially, could be quite serious.

"One scan showed ball bearing was millimetres from very thin piece of bone between my nose and brain so it, potentially, could have been life-threatening.

"I just feel very lucky not to be blind or potentially dead."