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Thursday, July 11, 2024

Chris Kaba shooting case drives London police to consider army backup as officers hand in gun licenses

London – Britain’s Ministry of Defense agreed to provide soldiers to support London’s Metropolitan Police after more than 100 armed officers refused to go out on armed patrols over the weekend, CBS News partner network BBC News reported. The Met, as the London force is commonly known, said the officers were responding to the authorization of a murder charge against a colleague in the shooting of Chris Kaba, an unarmed 24-year-old Black man, last September. Later on Monday, the Met announced that it had enough armed officers who were willing to work, “to no longer require external assistance.”

“There is a concern on the part of firearms officers that even if they stick to the tactics and training they have been given, they will face years of protracted legal proceedings which impact on their personal wellbeing and that of their family,” London Metropolitan Police Commissioner Mark Rowley said in an open letter on Sunday. “Officers need sufficient legal protection to enable them to do their job and keep the public safe, and the confidence that it will be applied consistently and without fear or favour.”

Kaba was driving last year when he was shot in the head and killed by police who stopped him because there was an alert out on the car he was in. His death sparked widespread protests and calls for an investigation.

Late last week, prosecutors said they had authorized a murder charge against the firearms officer who shot Kaba, who has been identified publicly only as NX121.

Before the prosecutors cleared the way for the officer to face the murder charge, only five armed police officers from the force had handed back their weapons permits, Britain’s Guardian newspaper reported.

“Many are worried about how the decision impacts on them, on their colleagues and on their families,” the Metropolitan Police said in a statement. “They are concerned that it signals a shift in the way the decisions they take in the most challenging circumstances will be judged. A number of officers have taken the decision to step back from armed duties while they consider their position.”

According to government data, between March 2022 and 2023 there were 18,395 police firearms operations in England and Wales. In that time, there were 10 incidents where police intentionally discharged their weapons at people.

U.K. Home Secretary Suella Braverman, who is in charge of policing in the country, said the government was launching a review “to ensure [armed police] have the confidence to do their jobs while protecting us all.”

“They mustn’t fear ending up in the dock for carrying out their duties,” she said.

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