There’s been some anger and confusion over an incident in Wood Green earlier this month, where a man was shot dead during a police operation. A firearms officer has since been arrested and the community is demanding to know what’s going on. We’ve sifted rumour from fact and here’s what we know so far.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission issued a short statement on 14 December:
On Friday 11 December, Jermaine Baker, 28, from Tottenham, died during a police operation in Bracknell Close, Wood Green, in North London. Mr Baker died as a result of a single gunshot wound.
Jermaine Baker is believed to have been in a black Audi, in which the IPCC says a “non-police issue firearm” was found.
What else we know: Bracknell Close is round the corner from Wood Green Crown Court, and police believe there was a plan to free two men who were on their way to the court in a prison van. The two later pleaded guilty to firearms offences and were sentenced to 14 years.
Four other men have since been charged with conspiracy to aid the escape of the prisoners; two also face charges of possessing an imitation firearm and using a vehicle without the owner’s consent. Reporting around the case has been so fevered that the Attorney General felt the need to remind the media of contempt of court law — the law that guarantees the right of everyone to a fair trial. (For this reason, we’re not opening comments on this story.)
Why are people so angry?
Jermaine Baker isn’t the first person to have died after being shot by police since Mark Duggan (there have been two other incidents since: Dean Joseph, shot while holding his ex-partner hostage with a knife, and James Fox, killed in Enfield after reports of a man threatening to shoot people). However, the area — Wood Green/Tottenham — and the circumstances of a mixed race man shot during a police operation have parallels.
A community meeting was held on Friday, which was attended by the IPCC and Haringey’s police borough commander. The IPCC’s statement to that meeting is online. It says that a criminal homicide investigation has begun, and that the officer in question has been arrested and interviewed under caution. The IPCC stresses that at present, the evidence does not suggest a crime has definitively been committed, nor whether the officer will be charged, but it did suggest a criminal investigation should be carried out.
The BBC reported that frustrations ran high at Friday’s meeting, with some people shouting “liars” and “murderers”.
Why weren’t the police wearing cameras?
After the death of Mark Duggan, armed police were supposed to start wearing body cameras to record incidents. However, in October the IPCC pointed out that the camera’s positioning meant its view was blocked when an officer raised a weapon to the shoulder.
Even if this had been rectified, the Commissioner has said that there are two types of firearms officer deployment: overt and covert. Cameras are noticeable: wearing one would give away the identity of any plainclothes officer on the scene. The operation in Wood Green was apparently of a covert nature.
What happens now?
The IPCC needs to continue its investigation. We’re aware that Google contains many more accusations and claims but, given that the 2011 riots were sparked by Mark Duggan’s shooting by police, we’re not about to repeat anything that can’t yet be backed up by firm evidence or might prejudice the course of any future trial. We’d caution you to do the same with your social media accounts.