A hero officer who took on the Westminster attacker told an inquest he had no doubt Khalid Masood “was coming to kill police”.
Pc Nick Carlisle was among the uniformed unarmed officers posted at the gates of the Palace of Westminster on March 22 last year.
He told the Old Bailey how he attempted to launch a “rugby tackle” on knifeman Masood when he saw him setting upon his colleague Pc Keith Palmer.
He distracted Masood long enough to allow them both to run off before the attacker was shot dead by close protection officers.
Asked if he had any doubt what the attacker wanted to do, Pc Carlisle said: “None whatsoever.
“He looked me directly in the eye. He was coming through a crowd of people. He was not interested in members of the public.
“He was coming to kill police officers.”
Describing the fast-moving events, he said: “I heard a loud bang in Bridge Street. It was over my right shoulder, about 30 metres away.”
Through the radio he heard a report of a possible explosion, he said: “I could see a grey vehicle 4×4 against the wall of the railings in Bridge Street. Smoke was coming through the fence. It looked as if there had been a high speed road accident.”
He said there was shouting and screaming as a crowd of people surged towards Parliament Square.
“As soon as he said that I was drawn to the attacker just behind.”
Pc Carlisle said his colleague Pc Kevin Tipple reacted by shouting to “shut the gate” while Pc Palmer called to the crowd to “come in here”.
He said the two events happened almost at the same time.
Pc Carlisle said he backed away about 10 metres and turned to see the attacker had caught Pc Palmer.
“I ran forward intending to issue a rugby tackle, shoulder barge.
“He came at me with knives up. I was very close.”
The distraction worked and gave Pc Palmer enough time to get up and run as Pc Carlisle shouted for “armed support”, the inquest heard.
Pc Carlisle told how he saw close protection officers with handguns drawn.
“I indicated the suspect, making it clear who the attacker was and pointing him out.”
He said he did not hear the warning but understood there had been one before Masood was shot.
Afterwards, he secured him in handcuffs, fearing he was a “Jihadi-type” attacker who might was wearing a suicide vest.
He then saw Pc Palmer on the ground surrounded by a “gaggle of people” and went to help.
Hugo Keith, for the Met Police, said: “You bravely attempted to go towards Masood and Pc Palmer to try to disable Masood, but the reality was there was no time to stop him before he got to Pc Palmer and once he turned towards you with his knives there was no time or ability to stop him after that.”
Pc Carlisle replied: “It’s fair to say, sir.”
Lawyer Susannah Stevens said: “Can I say on behalf of Pc Palmer’s family thank you very much for your bravery in trying to assist?”
Masood, 52, was shot dead after stabbing Pc Palmer, 48, to death and ploughing into Kurt Cochran, 54, Leslie Rhodes, 75, Aysha Frade, 44, and Andreea Cristea, 31, on Westminster Bridge in a rented 4×4.