A firearms officer who killed a man during a foiled prison breakout can face misconduct proceedings, the Court of Appeal has ruled following a challenge by the police watchdog.
Jermaine Baker, 28, of Tottenham, north London, was shot dead during a Metropolitan Police operation which thwarted a plot to snatch two prisoners from a van near Wood Green Crown Court in December 2015.
Following an investigation, the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) directed that the force should bring disciplinary proceedings for gross misconduct against the marksman, referred to only as W80.
That decision was quashed by the High Court in August last year, after it was challenged by Officer W80.
But, in a ruling on Friday, three leading judges overturned the High Court’s judgment following an appeal by the IOPC.
In a summary of the ruling, Sir Geoffrey Vos said: “The IOPC was justified in concluding that it was open to a reasonable misconduct panel to make a finding of misconduct if W80’s honest, but mistaken, belief that his life was threatened was found to be unreasonable.
“That conclusion was soundly based in law on the proper and plain meaning of the relevant regulations and the (College of Policing’s) Code of Ethics.”
Sitting with Lady Justice Macur and Lady Justice Nicola Davies, Sir Geoffrey said the IOPC’s decision to direct the Met to bring misconduct proceedings stands.
The judge told the court that Officer W80 has seven days to decide whether to appeal to the Supreme Court.
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.
IOPC director general Michael Lockwood said: “This is an important legal decision for maintaining public trust and confidence in a system which ensures police are accountable for upholding the standards of professional behaviour.”
He added: “The examination of serious incidents such as this in a disciplinary hearing ensures transparency and public scrutiny of the circumstances.
“This principle of police being accountable for their actions is fundamental to policing by consent.
“Today’s decision provides that confirmation and reassurance to the public.”
In a statement after the ruling, the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) lead for armed policing, Chief Constable Simon Chesterman, described the judgment as “disappointing”.
He said: “Independent scrutiny and accountability for the actions of police are hugely important.
“But equally as important is ensuring that the challenges faced by officers, as they work to keep people safe, are recognised and they are treated fairly by those judging their actions with the benefit of hindsight.
“The introduction of body-worn video has been a major step forward in this respect.
Mr Chesterman said it was important that the NPCC, which was an intervener in the case, takes time to closely reflect on the ruling.