Met Police officer who shot Jermaine Baker dead will face gross misconduct hearing

29 September 2023, 13:19

Jermaine Baker who was shot by a Met Police officer
Jermaine Baker who was shot by a Met Police officer. Picture: Supplied

By StephenRigley

The Met Police firearms officer who killed Jermaine Baker during a foiled prison breakout more than seven years ago will face misconduct proceedings, a watchdog has announced.

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Mr Baker, 28, of Tottenham, north London, was shot during a Metropolitan Police operation which thwarted a plot to snatch two prisoners from a van near Wood Green Crown Court in December 2015.

Jermaine Baker
Jermaine Baker. Picture: Supplied

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) said the officer, known only as W80, will now face a gross misconduct hearing.

In 2018 it was decided he should face a disciplinary hearing that would allege W80 should not have opened fire and had used excessive force. An enquiry then found it was lawful but there were failings at almost every stage.

Mr Baker's mother, Margaret Smith, had rejected the conclusion her son did not die as a result of police failings, saying they meant her son was "dead before he got in the car".

W80 said he fired because Baker failed to comply with his repeated shouted order to place his hands on the dashboard. The case had continual objections from the officer and the Met, leading to a series of legal cases that went all the way to the Supreme Court.

In July of this year, the Supreme Court upheld the Court of Appeal's ruling and dismissed an appeal by Officer W80, which was supported by the Met.

A panel of five justices unanimously ruled the IOPC applied the correct legal test when directing the Met to bring disciplinary proceedings against the officer.

The judges held that the civil, and not criminal, law test applies in disciplinary proceedings in relation to the use of force by a police officer in self-defence.

Flowers were laid behind Wood Green Crown Court in North London on December 16, 2015 for police shooting victim Jermaine Baker
Flowers were laid behind Wood Green Crown Court in North London on December 16, 2015 for police shooting victim Jermaine Baker. Picture: Alamy

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Mr Baker was among a group of men trying to free Izzet Eren and his co-defendant as they were transported from Wormwood Scrubs to be sentenced for a firearms offence.

A number of men were jailed in 2016 for their parts in the plot.

In a statement, Met Deputy Commissioner Lynne Owens said: "Today’s announcement follows protracted legal proceedings which we know have had a significant personal impact on Mr Baker’s family, the officer, their family and colleagues.

“A public inquiry, concluded in July 2022, determined Mr Baker was lawfully killed. We disagreed with the IOPC decision to direct we hold a gross misconduct hearing for W80 and wrote in detail to the IOPC inviting it to review and reconsider its direction. We wrote to the IOPC more than a year ago and have today been informed of its decision.

“The IOPC has told us that the direction to bring proceedings stands and we must hold a misconduct hearing. We will review the IOPC decision and reasons and consider our next steps.

“We note that the IOPC has asked the MPS to consider asking another force to hold the hearing to provide additional reassurance about the independence of the process.

“We do not accept that our wider call for support and legal reassurance for armed officers impinges upon our independence, nor the impartiality of the misconduct hearing process.

“We will be seeking legal advice in light of the IOPC’s request.

“Last week, the Commissioner wrote an open letter to the Home Secretary calling for reforms intended to simplify and speed up the process by which officers are held to account, particularly when they use force in the course of their duties.

“We welcome the announcement of a review by the Home Office which we hope will bring much needed clarity about the legal powers of armed officers and the threshold for investigating police use of force.

“We will engage fully with the review with a view to avoiding the sort of delay witnessed in this case, achieving greater clarity and providing better protection for the public.

“Our firearms officers do an incredibly difficult job in some of the most challenging and often dangerous circumstances. It is right and they expect and accept their actions are open to independent scrutiny – but officers need sufficient legal protection to enable them to do their job and keep the public safe, with confidence it will be applied consistently and without fear or favour.”