Fatal Police Shooting of Chris Kaba
Chris Kaba, an unarmed, 24-year-old man, was fatally shot by a Metropolitan Police officer whilst driving in South London on 5 September 2022. Soon after Chris’ death, the police watchdog, the Independent Office for Police Conduct (‘IOPC’) announced that the car the father-to-be was driving had previously been linked to an earlier firearms incident but was not in fact registered to Chris and that no gun was found on him, the car or near the scene. On 16 September 2022 the IOPC confirmed that they would examine whether Chris Kaba’s race influenced any actions taken by the police.
Part of a larger problem?
Chris Kaba’s death has re-ignited outrage surrounding recognised systemic racism within the UK police forces. Statistics have long demonstrated that Black people disproportionately die after police contact and are more than twice as likely to die in police custody. Chris Kaba was the fourth unarmed black man to be shot in the last two decades, following the deaths of Jermaine Baker (December 11, 2015), Mark Duggan (4 August 2011), and Azelle Rodney (30 April 2005). Chris’ death also closely followed the death of Oladeji Adeyemi Omishore, a 41-year-old man, who died following police contact, just four months earlier.
What do we know about the police’s actions on the day?
On the day that Chris was killed, the police were using a system called automatic number-plate recognition (‘ANPR’), which is a feature in police cars that automatically reads passing cars number plates and checks these against their database. It appears that this was the only intelligence upon which the police relied when they pursued Chris in police vehicles. After following Chris for some time, the officers boxed Chris’ vehicle in with police cars and an armed police officer proceeded to fire a single shot through the driver’s side which struck Chris in the head. Chris received first aid at the scene and was taken to hospital. Tragically, he was pronounced dead a couple of hours later. According to the family, they were only informed about Chris’ death 11 hours after he died.
What investigations have taken place so far?
Following the IOPC’s announcements that Chris was in fact unarmed at the time of his death, that no gun was found in the car or the surrounding area, and that the car flagged by the ANPR was not registered to Chris, Chris’ family demanded the officers’ suspension and for a criminal investigation into Chris’ death to be conducted.
The police officer who fired the fatal shot, remained on duty for three days after the shooting. He was recently suspended by the MPS on 12 September 2022 and the IOPC indicated they would commence a criminal investigation.
What happens next?
The IOPC have indicated that they hope to conclude the investigation in the next six to nine months. Following this investigation, the IOPC can refer the matter to the Crown Prosecution Service (‘CPS’) if they decide there is the potential for criminal charges. The CPS would then ultimately determine whether or not criminal charges will follow. The IOPC will also determine whether the officer involved has a case to answer for gross misconduct or misconduct.
The family has now had sight of the body-worn camera of Chris’ death and are awaiting further updates from the IOPC. The Senior Coroner has advised that the inquest will be opened in public on Tuesday 4 October 2022.
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