MPS Commissioner facing further scrutiny at prison break shooting inquiry
The Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS), Dame Cressida Dick, has come under fresh scrutiny during a public inquiry into the death of an unarmed man who was shot dead during a foiled prison break.
Jermaine Baker died when he was shot by an MPS marksman known only as W80 near Wood Green Crown Court on December 11, 2015.
The public inquiry into his death, which started on Monday, has heard that he may have been asleep at the time he was shot, and that no live firearm was found in the car in which he was front seat passenger, but a replica Uzi was discovered in the back of the car.
Officers had intelligence that the group, which aimed to free Izzet Eren from a prison van as he was being taken to the court, had been unable to obtain a real gun, but this information was not passed on to firearms officers who confronted the men.
Phillippa Kaufmann QC, representing Mr Baker’s family, told the inquiry on Wednesday (June 16) that his relatives are furious that W80 is working in a firearms training role. The marksman is currently locked in a High Court battle to determine whether he should face disciplinary proceedings over the shooting.
Ms Kaufmann said: “They are incensed that the gross misconduct proceedings against W80 have become mired in litigation. Litigation instituted by W80 but entirely supported by the Commissioner. And incensed that W80… is currently discharging a firearms training role, a role in which he is called upon to mentor and educate future generations of MPS firearms officers.
“In these respects the Commissioner has demonstrated to the family that she is not at all interested in holding her officers to account, either to their code of ethics or to the rule of law. She is unwilling and incapable of challenging the culture of institutional defensiveness and impunity that has pervaded firearms policing for decades.”
Ms Kaufmann added: “As importantly as the duty of the inquiry itself to act without fear or favour, the family look to the Commissioner, to her own responsibility for Jermaine’s death, and her personal responsibility to affect change.”
The comments come just one day after a damning report into the death of private detective Daniel Morgan criticised the Commissioner for failing to provide the panel investigating his death with timely access to certain materials.
Earlier, the inquiry into the prison break shooting was told that Mr Baker’s mother, Margaret Smith, will be the first witness to give evidence.
Outlining the family’s position, Ms Kaufmann said: “Margaret is categorically and unequivocally clear that whatever Jermaine was doing on December 11 2015 he should not have paid with his life, that his death was entirely unnecessary and unjustified, and that it was the result of truly reprehensible failings on the part of the police officers involved.” She added that the police operation was “botched and unprofessional”.
The inquiry has already heard that W80 opened fire within a couple of seconds of the passenger door of the Audi A6 in which Mr Baker was sitting being opened. Audio footage from police listening devices placed within the car captured a wall of noise as officers shouted different instructions at the men.
Setting out some of the questions that Mr Baker’s relatives want answered, Ms Kaufmann said: “How on earth did Jermaine come to be shot dead when he was not carrying a weapon, when there was no gun within reach? How did W80, a highly trained firearms officer, a firearms instructor, conclude that Jermaine was reaching for a gun when he had not even given Jermaine time to comply with his instructions?”