Officer who killed man during foiled prisoner breakout can face misconduct proceedings
Written by on 9 October 2020
An armed police officer who killed a man during a plot to free two prisoners can face misconduct proceedings, the Court of Appeal has ruled.
Jermaine Baker was shot dead in December 2015 during a Met operation that foiled a plan to break out the inmates from a security van close to Wood Green Crown Court in north London.
The 28-year-old, from Tottenham, was part of a wider group attempting to free Izzet Eren and his co-defendant as they were being taken from Wormwood Scrubs jail to be sentenced for a firearms offence.
Police watchdog, the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), investigated the matter and concluded the force should bring disciplinary measures for gross misconduct against the firearms officer, known only as W80.
This decision, however, was quashed by the High Court last year, after being challenged by the marksman.
On Friday, the Court of Appeal overturned the High Court’s judgment.
The new ruling states that where police say they have made an honest mistake that they faced imminent danger, the force used in response may amount to misconduct if that belief was unreasonable.
Explaining the decision, judge 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.
The judges told the court the officer has seven days to decide whether to appeal to the Supreme Court.
Jermaine’s mother, Margaret Smith, says her family “welcome” the latest ruling.
She said: “What is important now is that W80 is held to account for his actions.
“The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) have fought hard to avoid taking any action against him.
“We look to the MPS now to respect the direction of the IOPC and the decision of the Court of Appeal and to bring proper and effective proceedings against W80.”
Deborah Coles, director of Inquest, said the ruling from the court is a “small but important step against such impunity”.
A number of men were jailed in 2016 for their roles in the prison van breakout plot.