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IOPC shooting probe delayed by 'independent analysis' of evidence

A West Midlands Police firearms officer is under investigation by the IOPC after Sean Fitzgerald died from a single gunshot wound to the chest after leaving a property in Coventry on January 4, 2019.

A four-year IOPC investigation into the death of a 31-year-old shot by a firearms officer in Coventry has been delayed by the need for "further independent analysis" of some of the evidence. 

Sean Fitzgerald died from a single gunshot wound to the chest after leaving a property in Burnaby Road at about 6.20pm on January 4, 2019.

Shortly after the shooting, the IOPC said it had verified that a single round was discharged by a firearms officer as Mr Fitzgerald emerged from the rear of the property while other officers were gaining entry at the front. No firearms were recovered from the property.

The IOPC's regional director Derrick Campbell said the delays are down to some of the evidence requiring additional assessment. 

He said: “This has been a complex investigation and, although we were at an advanced stage last summer, I felt that further independent analysis was required in order to fully consider some of the evidence.

“Delays, which included identifying someone suitably qualified to carry out this work, have been resolved and an expert’s report was received shortly before Christmas. This is now being considered."

A gross misconduct notice was issued to the officer - from West Midlands Police - in April 2021, relating to their use of force during the police operation.

The IOPC said today that no decision has yet been taken as to whether there is a case to answer,

West Midlands Police has confirmed that this officer is currently in "a non-operational role". 

In March 2022, the IOPC announced that the officer was being investigated for "potential homicide offences" over the incident.

The IOPC told Police Oracle today that it has not been specific about which criminal offences are being considered because its investigation is not yet complete.

The lengthy investigation, which the charity Inquest references as "one of the longest-standing" seen in recent times, has been criticised by Mr Fitzgerald's family.

In a statement, his brother Liam Fitzgerald said: "We have had to fight and argue our case to seek to ensure a thorough investigation, an investigation that we were told would take three to six months.

“We have waited patiently for all this time. We are not prepared to wait any longer with no end in sight, which is why we now ask that the IOPC provide a date by which they will complete their investigation and decide whether to refer the case to the CPS for a charging decision, as we believe they should.”

The IOPC confirmed today that no decision has been made as of yet regarding whether to make such a referral.

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