Police officer who fatally shot Chris Kaba may face criminal charges
On 5 September 2022, a Metropolitan Police Officer fatally shot 24-year-old Chris Kaba. His death amplified the ongoing public outrage regarding the fatal use of force disproportionately used against Black people in the UK. Protests and community action ensued, seeking changes to persistent racial disparities in policing.
For the past six months, Chris Kaba’s family and the public have been awaiting meaningful updates on the investigation into his death including the decision as to whether the officers involved would face criminal charges.
On 30 March 2023, the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) announced they would refer the matter to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to consider criminal charges against the officer. As a result, the police officer who shot Chris Kaba could now face criminal charges and potentially even a murder charge.
Where case evidence indicates that a criminal offence may have been committed, the IOPC must refer these findings to the CPS. In doing so, the IOPC is essentially asking the CPS to consider bringing charges against the relevant officer.
Referrals do not automatically result in charges. Ultimately the CPS decides whether charges will be brought, and for what offence. In doing so, the CPS must consider whether there is enough evidence to provide a realistic prospect that the officer will be convicted and that a criminal prosecution is in the public interest.
To put things in perspective, in 2021/2022, the IOPC referred 82 police officers to the CPS following investigations. The CPS only prosecuted 34% of those officers, however.
The IOPC must separately consider whether the officer has “a case to answer” which means there is sufficient evidence upon which a misconduct hearing can be reasonably held. The officer who shot Chris Kaba, who remains unnamed, is currently suspended. We are yet to see whether any misconduct proceedings will ensue.
Prosecuting police officers
Successful prosecutions of police officers in England and Wales are rare.
In 2021/22, when the England and Wales Police force was made up of approximately 227,500 people, the CPS brought criminal proceedings against 37 police officers and one staff member following an IOPC investigation. Only 23 of those resulted in guilty verdicts. We also know that only one in 100 accused police officers in England and Wales faced criminal charges in 2022.
The recent findings in the Casey Report further confirmed what many unfortunately already knew to be true about the Metropolitan Police: the force is institutionally racist, sexist, and homophobic. The report acknowledges that officers too often consider themselves above the public and act in their own interest. It is therefore crucial that police officers face legal consequences in cases where they abuse their powerful position.
Prosecutions of individual officers alone will not stop racist and authoritarian policing. It is, however, an important step towards becoming comfortable with the idea that officers cannot remain above the law forever. Systemic changes and reforms will inevitably have to follow.
The Human Rights Department at Saunders Law offers expert legal assistance and representation in civil claims against the police and other government authorities. We also have extensive experience in inquest work and take thorough approach to complex cases.
For a free, no-obligation, initial discussion to see if we might be able to help, please contact us on 02076324300 or make an enquiry online.