Jermaine Baker lawfully shot dead by Met officer, inquiry rules

·4 min read
Photograph: Family handout/PA

A Metropolitan police firearms officer lawfully shot Jermaine Baker dead in December 2015, an official inquiry has found.

Baker was part of a criminal gang trying to spring a prisoner from custody when he was killed by a Metropolitan police marksman on 11 December 2015.

Baker, 28, was sitting in the front of an Audi car when he was shot once, 100 yards from Wood Green crown court in north London. An imitation Uzi gun was found in the rear footwell.

The inquiry found Baker did not have any weapon at the time he was shot at close range, nor did two other men in the car.

The inquiry was conducted by Clement Goldstone QC, a retired judge.

In its report released on Tuesday, the inquiry concluded the shooting was lawful, but found 24 errors in the way the Met planned and conducted the armed operation, saying the failings were a “loud wake-up to a newly appointed commissioner”.

The officer, known only as W80, said he acted in self-defence, believing Baker was reaching for a firearm when he moved his hands upwards.

The officer had been briefed the suspects could be armed and dangerous. The inquiry concluded W80 was entitled to believe the criminals he had been sent to face may be armed and may try to fight and escape.

Goldstone’s key finding was: “I have concluded that W80 shot Mr Baker because he honestly believed that Mr Baker posed a lethal threat and that it was reasonably necessary for him to shoot in order to defend himself.

“As a result, I have concluded that Mr Baker was lawfully killed.”

Baker’s mother said her son was shot while surrendering, and she would continue to fight on, saying she disagreed with the inquiry’s key conclusions.

Margaret Smith said: ”We know Jermaine was unarmed and complied with the instructions (he was given by other armed officers). Jermaine was surrendering. Jermaine could not have done more to save his life. “

Smith added the Met were hell-bent on a violent clash: “Jermaine was dead before he got into the car …

“It was unjustified to take his life. Jermaine should have gone to prison like the rest of the men in that car.”

The car Baker was in had been bugged by police, and shortly before 9am armed officers surrounded the vehicle and he was shot. Baker was pronounced dead at the scene.

Baker was part of a group of men who were trying to help Izzet Eren escape from a prison van as he travelled to Wood Green crown court from Wormwood Scrubs prison to be sentenced. Eren had been stopped by police with a loaded pistol and Scorpion machine gun in his possession.

The inquiry heard that W80 claimed he shot Baker once, believing him to be going for a gun that was in a man bag slung across his chest.

Lawyers for Baker said in fact he was raising his arms to surrender and as he was unarmed, could not have been reaching for the bag or any weapon.

Baker’s lawyers accused W80 of lying in his account to the inquiry. The officer had claimed he repeatedly told Baker to place his hands on the dashboard.

Goldstone in his conclusion said W80 had opened the passenger door of the car Baker was sitting in with two other men.

W80 pointed his weapon at Baker, and the inquiry concluded: “He told Mr Baker to place his hands on the dashboard. I have accepted W80’s evidence that Mr Baker moved his hands in the direction of the bag that he was wearing …

“I have accepted W80’s evidence that he honestly believed that Mr Baker was not complying with the instruction to place his hands on the dashboard and that he was reaching for a firearm.

“W80 shot Mr Baker once …”

The time from police shouting at the suspects to the shot being fired was five seconds. The inquiry said the bullet struck Baker in the neck and left wrist, which was raised “above the entry wound to his neck when he was shot.”

On the string of Met failings, the inquiry said: “While I am satisfied that the MPS failed to plan and conduct the operation … in such a way as to minimise to the greatest extent possible, recourse to the use of lethal force, I do not conclude that Mr Baker died as a result of these failures.”

The shooting was investigated by the police watchdog, now called the Independent Office for Police Conduct.

The shooting led to the arrest of the officer in December 2015 by the police watchdog for “homicide offences”.

Its investigation provided an indication of potential criminals offences by W80. The Crown Prosecution Service decided against bringing any charges.

Officers involved in the Met operation refused to answer oral questions from investigators, which the IOPC said slowed its inquiry down and which Goldstone also criticised.

W80 still faces disciplinary action over the shooting.

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