The police watchdog for England and Wales has said it will investigate whether race played a role in the shooting of Chris Kaba, an unarmed 24-year-old black man, by London’s Metropolitan Police.
Kaba was fatally shot by a single bullet on the evening of September 5 by specialist firearms officers in Streatham Hill, south London.
The shooting occurred after officers attempted to “stop and detain” the vehicle Kaba was driving, which was not registered to him. It had been flagged by an automatic number plate recognition camera as linked to a weapons offence.
The Independent Office for Police Conduct confirmed on September 9 that a homicide investigation was underway, and Met Assistant Commissioner Amanda Pearson said this week that the officer who shot Kaba had been suspended from frontline duty.
Kaba’s death has raised concerns about racism in British policing and follows several scandals involving London’s police force, including the highly publicized killing of Sarah Everard by a service officer.
The IOPC said on Friday that as part of its investigation it will examine whether Kaba’s race had influenced officers’ decision-making and examine key details such as how the vehicle driven by Kaba was flagged on their system.
Kaba’s family has repeatedly expressed concern that race played a role in his death, saying last week that they were “concerned that if Chris had not been black, he would have been arrested . . . and did not have his life shortened”.
MPs, activists and celebrities, such as musician Stormzy, marched through London last week, calling for justice and clarification from the police about the circumstances surrounding Kaba’s death.
Sal Naseem, the IOPC’s regional director for London, said he appreciated that Kaba’s family had “unanswered questions” and that the watchdog would aim to complete the investigation within six to nine months.
“We have been in further contact with Chris’s family this week to answer a number of questions . . . and to offer them a private and confidential opportunity to view video footage as soon as practicable,” he said.
“Since this is a criminal investigation, we will continue to be limited in what details we can release,” he added. “Given this is a homicide investigation, we are in contact with the Crown Prosecution Service and we have already had discussions with the coroner and his officers.”
According to the findings of a post-mortem examination carried out on September 9, Kaba, who was an expectant father, was killed by a single gunshot wound to the head. A coroner’s inquest is expected to begin on October 4.