Jermaine Baker, 28, was fatally shot by police in a planned operation on Friday
On Friday 11th December at around 9am a police operation was underway in Wood Green, north London, to prevent an alleged attempt to free two suspects - Izet Eren and Erwin Amoyaw-Gyamfi - who were being transported in a prison van to a court hearing for alleged firearm offences.
During what has been described as an intelligence-led operation, armed police were waiting to intercept their targets in unmarked vehicles just before the fatal encounter took place in Bracknell Close, a quiet residential road just a few streets away from Wood Green Crown Court where Eren and Amoyaw-Gyamfi were due for sentencing later in the day.
Jermaine Baker, 28, was one of five men the police had suspected of plotting to aid the escape of the two men.
It is reported that Jermaine Baker, a father-of-two, was in an Audi A4 car when the encounter with police began and he received a fatal shot from one of the Scotland Yard officers.
Nick Lindsay, a workman who witnessed the events, said Mr Baker, who had been sat in a parked car “for easily half an hour” when the police swooped in. Mr Lindsay recalls, “The police all came down, they all jumped out of cars with their guns and said 'Get down', and then there was a smash, then the gunshot went off. […] By that time police officers grabbed us to move us out of the way."
Now questions are being raised about how and why Mr Baker was shot.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has launched an investigation into Mr Baker’s death and the officer responsible for the killing has been suspended. In a statement the IPCC said: “The Independent Police Complaints Commission has launched a homicide investigation into Mr Baker’s death.”
In a statement the Met police’s deputy assistant commissioner Peter Terry said, “As this is an ongoing investigation we must all await the IPCC’s findings before drawing any conclusions or speculating on what has taken place.” He continued, “All of our firearms officers […] do a job that is difficult and often dangerous. They all fully understand, quite rightly, that they will need to account for their actions if they use lethal force.”
Tributes have been paid to Mr Baker, whose death has left many in disbelief. Charlotte Asar, 26, who had been friends with Baker since they were kids, said, ‘I just started crying […]I couldn’t believe it.” Ms Asar also explained that Mr Baker’s alleged involvement in serious criminal organisation seems uncharacteristic to her. “He was never loud or in trouble with the law or part of a bad crowd […] That’s why I don’t understand why he was where he was when he was shot,” said the victim’s friend.
One card left at the scene among flowers and other tributes described Mr Baker as a “real good soul” who will “be sorely missed.”
The death of Mr Baker brings to mind the fatal police shooting of Mark Duggan in 2011, for which the officer who fired the shots was not suspended or charged.
Like Mark Duggan, Jermaine Baker was a young father, also from Tottenham, killed by a police bullet as part of a planned operation. The IPCC has said that a non-police firearm was found at the scene of Mr Baker’s death and is currently being examined as part of the investigation; one of the most contentious aspects of the Duggan case was whether or not Mark Duggan was armed when he was killed.
After Mark Duggan’s death in 2011 London erupted in riots. To this day Duggan’s family and friends are seeking answers and justice over the questionable circumstances in which Mr Duggan died. Despite an unlawful killing verdict, no officer has been charged or received disciplinary action over Mr Duggan’s death.
A disproportionate number of those who have died at the hands of police in the UK, between 1990 and the present day, have been black and minority ethnic (BAME) people. According to the charity INQUEST, since 2000, 53 BAME people have been killed by British police either in custody or in a shooting. A total of 1536 people have been killed in the UK following contact with the police since 1990 and in that time no officer has been successfully prosecuted.
With statistics like these it is little wonder that some people question how independent the IPCC really is.
Whilst the police officer who shot Jermaine Baker could potentially face manslaughter or murder charges, the IPCC has said that “the launch of a criminal investigation does not mean that criminal charges will necessarily follow.”