A Specialist Firearms Officer (SFO) from West Midlands Police has been told by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) that they are being investigated for “potential homicide offences” more than three years after a fatal shooting.
Sean Fitzgerald was shot by the SFO in Coventry back in January 2019.
Mr Fitzgerald was hit by a single round fired from the officer’s gun as he tried to flee from the rear of a property while other officers were gaining entry at the front.
A post mortem examination, held shortly after the shooting, confirmed that Mr Fitzgerald, who was 31, died after receiving a single gunshot wound to the chest at the property in Burnaby Road at around 18:20 hours on Friday 4 January 2019.
The intelligence-led operation involved the execution of a warrant by the West Midlands Regional Organised Crime Unit (ROCU) and West Midlands Police in support of a Warwickshire Police investigation.
ROCU is a collaboration between the police forces of Staffordshire, West Midlands, West Mercia and Warwickshire to fight organised crime across the region.
When he was shot, Mr Fitzgerald was not armed, and officers found no firearms at the address.
In April 2021, investigators reviewed the evidence.
They concluded at the time that there was no indication that a criminal offence may have been committed by the officer who fired the shot.
However, the officer was served with a gross misconduct notice, although the IOPC did not call for the officer to be criminally investigated.
Three murder or manslaughter charges have been brought against police involved in fatal shootings since 1990.
In all cases, the officers were found not guilty, or the trial collapsed.
IOPC Regional Director, Derrick Campbell said:
“This complex investigation is nearing conclusion.
“Following a review of all of the evidence obtained and the receipt of legal advice, we have revisited our position on potential criminal conduct.
“This does not mean that criminal charges will necessarily follow.
“At the conclusion of our investigation, we will decide whether to refer the matter to the Crown Prosecution Service to consider whether any charge(s) should be brought.
“The officer and Mr Fitzgerald’s family have been advised of this development.
“This was a tragic incident that led to a man losing his life and our thoughts remain with all of those affected by Mr Fitzgerald’s death.”
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