In the News
Police Officer Charged with Murder
Last month, murder charges were put before a police officer at Westminster Magistrates Court after the death of 24-year-old Chris Kaba, who lost his life on 5 September 2022 in South East London. He was being followed by police vehicles after he was found to be driving a car which was linked to a firearms incident, when he was blocked in by a fully liveried police car. Despite being unarmed he was subsequently shot by an officer with a single bullet through the windscreen.
The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) who handles complaints made against the police, carried out an investigation into the incident. As a result of this, they then referred the case to the CPS who decided to bring murder charges against the individual officer who discharged his weapon. This led to protests by armed firearms officers in the capital who put down their weapons in protest, and as such the army had to ready themselves to stand in their place. Home Secretary Suella Braverman then defended the actions of armed officers who have to make decisions in a matter of seconds under extraordinary pressure. She said should that they should not end up in court for carrying out their duties and ordered a review of the protection afforded to them. Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley welcomed this in an effort to support his officers who were worried about the potential repercussions of their actions.
The police officer concerned has been granted anonymity and the Old Bailey has heard arguments to decide if this is to remain to provide protection for them. However, some critics have stated that this conflicts with the idea of the accountability of police officers and the openness and transparency of the criminal justice system.
Quite how to deal with such instances is unknown as no on-duty police officer has ever been found guilty of murder in relation to a police shooting. This is despite this being the twelfth charge for a fatal offence by a serving police officer in the course of their duties since 1990. Only one of these prosecutions has resulted in an officer being found guilty of manslaughter, after the tragic death of Dalian Atkinson. The former professional footballer was tasered three times and had his head stamped on by a serving police officer, PC Monks, who attended a disturbance at the families home and was seen to have used excessive force. Although he was found not guilty of murder he was convicted of manslaughter, the first conviction of its kind against a serving police officer in the course of their duties.
Questions to consider
- What will have to be proven in order for a conviction of murder?
- How does the law of murder differ from the law of manslaughter?
- Should police officers be afforded greater protection from criminal liability for actions carried out in the course of their duties?
- What are your views on the anonymity of defendants? Does this conflict with the idea of open and transparent justice?