UK

Jermaine Baker: Fatal police shooting of unarmed black man ‘lawful’ despite 24 failings, inquiry finds

An unarmed black man was shot dead after a “catalogue of failings” in a Metropolitan Police operation, an inquiry has found.

Retired judge Clement Goldstone QC concluded that Jermaine Baker, 28, was lawfully killed despite the errors.

But he warned that the findings should “serve as a loud wake-up call to a newly appointed commissioner” of Britain’s largest police force.

“I cannot help but believe and observe that if JB had not been fatally shot, none of the shortcomings in planning and execution which this inquiry has exposed would have come to light and the operation would have been hailed as an outstanding success by and for the Met,” the inquiry chair added.

Mr Baker was shot dead by an armed police officer during an attempt to break a London gangster out of prison on 11 December 2015.

His family have long battled for justice over the shooting, challenging the Crown Prosecution Service’s decision not to charge the officer who killed him and unsuccessfully taking Scotland Yard to court over their decision to let a commanding officer retire before potential misconduct proceedings.

Mr Baker’s mother, Margeret Smith, told the inquiry that he was “no angel”, saying her son was “involved in a crime and should have gone to prison like the others involved” – but should not have died.

She said her son’s experience was “the story of being written off as a child could be told about so many Black boys and young men”.

Mr Goldstone concluded that race “played no part in Mr Baker’s death” and that some of the officers at the scene thought he was of Turkish origin.

The plan was to intercept a custody van carrying Izzet Eren, a member of the Tottenham Turks gang, as he was transported to Wood Green Crown Court to be sentenced for possessing a Skorpion sub-machine gun with intent to danger life.

The conspirators used a stolen Audi, but it was bugged by the police and then targeted by an armed “extraction” operation to arrest those inside.

Mr Baker was sat in the car, parked in a residential street near the back of the court, with two other men when counter-terrrorism specialist firearms officers (CTSFOs) were ordered to move in.

The inquiry’s findings said: “Mr Baker was not carrying a weapon. The Audi was later searched and an imitation firearm, in the style of a black Uzi sub-machine gun, was found in the rear of the car.”

Earlier in the day, Detective Chief Inspector Neil Williams, the operations’ tactical firearms commander, had been told that the conspirators had only been able to source an imitation gun rather than a live weapon.

But he did not pass the information onto other officers, or the CTSFOs who were to carry out the extraction.

The officer who shot Mr Baker, known as W80, said that at the time of the operation he believed there was going to be an attack “by a group of experienced and dangerous individuals who would be armed and would use firearms in the course of the offence … I believed that the suspects would be armed with weapons, possibly machine pistols.”

He told the inquiry that he went to the Audi’s passenger side and opened the door with the intention to extract Mr Baker himself or provided cover for a colleague while they did.

But another parked car meant that the open door created a barrier between Mr Baker and W80 and the suspect could not be dragged out or physically restrained.

Mr Goldstone said W80 had no Taser situation meant that he had the choice between verbal commands or his gun.

Xural.com

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