WMP officer facing criminal inquiry over shooting of unarmed man
A firearms officer from West Midlands Police has been notified that they are being investigated for potential homicide offences in relation to the fatal shooting of Sean Fitzgerald in Coventry in January 2019.
Mr Fitzgerald, who was 31, died from a single gunshot wound to the chest as he fled from a house during an intelligence-led raid by officers from the force. He was unarmed at the time.
The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) opened a mandatory investigation following a referral.
IOPC Regional Director Derrick Campbell said: “This complex investigation is nearing conclusion. Following a review of all of the evidence obtained and the receipt of legal advice, we have revisited our position on potential criminal conduct.
“This does not mean that criminal charges will necessarily follow. At the conclusion of our investigation, we will decide whether to refer the matter to the Crown Prosecution Service to consider whether any charge(s) should be brought. The officer and Mr Fitzgerald’s family have been advised of this development.
“This was a tragic incident that led to a man losing his life and our thoughts remain with all of those affected by Mr Fitzgerald’s death.”
Deborah Coles, the director of Inquest, said that while the IOPC’s decision was welcome, the fatal shooting of Fitzgerald “raises serious questions and concerns, and requires the utmost scrutiny”.
She added: “Accountability to the criminal standard for police officers or forces involved in deaths is rare, leading to concerns that police are too often above the law. It is essential that fatal use of force by police is examined with this high level of scrutiny.
“We hope this criminal investigation is conducted promptly, rigorously and sensitively in order to establish the truth and hold those responsible for any wrongdoing to account.”