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Police face anger at public meeting over Jermaine Baker shooting

Published 17/12/2015

Jermaine Baker was shot dead in Wood Green, north London
Jermaine Baker was shot dead in Wood Green, north London

Senior police officers received an angry reception at a packed public meeting as feelings continue to run high over the fatal shooting of a man during an alleged attempt to spring two convicts from a prison van.

Jermaine Baker, 28, from Tottenham, north London, died from a single gunshot wound during the police operation near Wood Green Crown Court on Friday.

Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) representative Cindy Butts told the meeting that an officer had been arrested and interviewed under caution during their investigation into the incident.

That drew applause - but the overwhelming majority of the views expressed during the evening by those gathered at Tottenham Town Hall were hostile to the authorities.

The IPCC has launched a criminal homicide investigation into the death, which could see the police face murder or manslaughter charges. The officer was suspended from duty on Wednesday.

IPCC Commissioner Ms Butts told the meeting "there was evidence to indicate that a potential criminal offence may have been committed by the officer in his use of lethal force".

She added: "We therefore made the decision to begin a criminal homicide investigation.

"This is not a decision we took lightly. Our decision followed careful consideration of the evidence available and whether that evidence met the legal requirement that meant a criminal investigation should be carried out.

"This afternoon a firearms officer has been arrested and interviewed under caution. All the other significant firearms officers have provided detailed statements as is normal practice.

"The evidence we have at this stage does not mean that the officer definitively committed a criminal act and nor does it mean he will necessarily be charged with a criminal offence."

She said no relevant CCTV has been identified and no body-worn cameras police cameras filmed the incident.

"I am aware of the concerns and frustrations the community have on this issue and would like to reiterate that we in the IPCC support the widest possible use of body-worn video," she added.

She told the noisy meeting attended by up to 150 people: "The number of you here is an indication of how important it is to you to hear about the progress of our investigation."

When she said Mr Baker died during a police operation there were some shouts of "murdered".

She said the evidence was that Mr Baker was in a black Audi when he was shot.

"In that car was what appears to be a non-police issue firearm. Further forensic examination will take place on the non-police issue firearm, and the firearm that was discharged by the police officer."

A witness appeal would take place tomorrow morning in the street where the shooting took place.

When she confirmed that officers were not wearing body cameras, there were shouts of "Why?" - and questioners returned repeatedly to that subject during the rest of the event.

Assistant Commissioner Helen King of the Metropolitan Police said: "The Metropolitan Police recognises, and our armed officers recognise, that they have to work within the law, and be accountable to the law, which is what we want.

"It is in everyone's interests that our armed officers have support when they conduct their very difficult duties, where often they are having to take split-second decisions."

This led to some shouts of "how dare you?" and "shame on you".

Chief Superintendent Victor Olisa, the Haringey borough commander, said there had been reports that Mr Baker was a gangster - but their research did not indicate that he was.

He said: "It does not help me, my officers, to continue to build the respect and trust that we seek, if there is emotional reporting that demonises a victim."

Someone shouted: "But they didn't shoot him, did they?"

A close friend of Mr Baker told the meeting: "He was not a gangster whatsoever. I've been told that he was sleeping in his car. Police officers had information that was not 100% that he was going to do it - you took an innocent man away."

Ms Butts said: "We do not know whether he was or was not asleep."

Police and IPCC representatives often struggled to make themselves heard above the angry hubbub in the room.

Mr Olisa said later: "We are doing everything we can to listen to and understand the concerns raised by the local community.

"This is a very difficult time for everyone affected by the death of Jermaine. I am grateful that we can have this open meeting which provides a forum for people to air their strong views, which should be heard and understood. It is only by working together that we can move forward as a community."

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