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IOPC wins ‘landmark appeal’ on use of force by firearms officer

Met will now have to hold misconduct hearing against officer involved in operation to stop prison escape

A firearms officer who shot dead a man involved in an attempt by a gang using an imitation weapon to free a prisoner as he was transported between his cell and a court can face misconduct proceedings, the Court of Appeal has ruled following a challenge by the IOPC.

Jermaine Baker, 28, of Tottenham, north London, was shot during a Metropolitan Police operation which stopped an attempt to free two prisoners from a van near Wood Green Crown Court in December 2015.

The officer claimed self defence fearing that Baker was reaching for a weapon. Officers discovered an imitation Uzi sub machine gun in the rear of the vehicle.

After the initial investigation by the IOPC a file was sent to the CPS who decided to take no further action.

It then decided that there was a disciplinary case to answer for use of excessive force. The Met disagreed but was directed to hold a disciplinary hearing by the IOPC against the officer referred to as W80.

That decision was quashed by the High Court in August last year, after it was successfully challenged by officer W80 on the grounds that the criminal test of self defence should be applied.

But, in a ruling on Friday, three leading judges overturned the High Court’s judgment following an appeal by the IOPC.

The IOPC had launched the appeal on the grounds that it would be “a landmark case in the use of force by police officers.”

In a summary of the ruling, Sir Geoffrey Vos said: “The IOPC was justified in concluding that it was open to a reasonable misconduct panel to make a finding of misconduct if W80’s honest, but mistaken, belief that his life was threatened was found to be unreasonable.

“That conclusion was soundly based in law on the proper and plain meaning of the relevant regulations and the (College of Policing’s) Code of Ethics.”

Sitting with Lady Justice Macur and Lady Justice Nicola Davies, Sir Geoffrey said the IOPC’s decision to direct the Met to bring misconduct proceedings stands.

The judge told the court that Officer W80 has seven days to decide whether to appeal to the Supreme Court.

Baker was among a group of men trying to free Izzet Eren and his co-defendant as they were transported from Wormwood Scrubs to be sentenced for a firearms offence.

A number of men were jailed in 2016 for their parts in the attempt

Responding to the judgement the National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for armed policing, Chief Constable Simon Chesterman, said:

“Police officers put themselves in harm’s way to protect people on a daily basis and they do so within the boundaries of the law and far reaching police conduct rules. They are amongst the most accountable officers in the world.

“Firearms officers are carefully selected, receive world class training and they very rarely need to use lethal force in the execution of their duty. In fact, they only discharge firearms at 0.03% of armed deployments.

“Independent scrutiny and accountability for the actions of police are hugely important. But equally as important is ensuring that the challenges faced by officers, as they work to keep people safe, are recognised and they are treated fairly by those judging their actions with the benefit of hindsight. The introduction of body worn video has been a major step forward in this respect.

“This is a disappointing judgement and it is important that we now take time to closely reflect on it.”

The full judgement can be found here

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