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Fatal Police Shooting Could Lead To Public Unrest, Community Leader Warns

The Independent Police Complaints Commission confirmed that a Metropolitan police firearms officer has been arrested, one week after a man was killed by single bullet.

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Ken Hinds, chair of the independent Haringey Stop and Search Monitoring Group, told BuzzFeed News that unless the police can provide answers on how Baker was killed, public unrest could grow.

His warning comes after a police officer was arrested as part of a homicide investigation and after community leaders and members of the public met with senior police officers at a heated meeting in Wood Green.

"Tensions are heightened because we didn't get any answers. All they hide behind is 'there's an investigation going on' but there are lessons to be learned," Hinds said.

"What they don't understand is they've got it in their hands to either keep the peace or start another war and create another riot. Last night they didn't do a very good job in trying to prevent another riot."

According to Hinds, one man stood up at the community meeting and told police: "If we don't get justice there will be another riot."

Riots developed across the country in 2011 after police shot dead 29-year-old Mark Duggan in Tottenham, north London. The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) cleared police of wrongdoing over the shooting.

Baker, 28, was shot and killed by a single bullet while sitting in a black Audi on the morning of 11 December, in what police described as an "intelligence-led" operation.

John Stillwell / PA WIRE

Officers at the scene in Bracknell Close in Wood Green, north London, after a man died after being shot during a police operation.

An officer who was involved in last week's operation was suspended from the Met on Wednesday and the IPCC continues to investigate the incident. The IPCC would not confirm what the officer had been arrested for specifically, but a spokesperson said that there were a number of options for the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), should it decide to bring charges.

However, no decision has been made on whether to refer evidence to the CPS.

Last week, four men from north London were charged in connection with an alleged plot to spring two convicted criminals from Wood Green crown court, a few hundred metres from where the car was parked.

Hinds said people were frustrated that basic facts about the case were not being revealed, such as how many people were in the car and whether Baker was asleep at the time of the shooting.

"If there is misinformation in the community that's heightening tension, isn't it your [the police's] job and your responsibility to lower that?" he said.

The Met and the IPCC maintain that they can't provide any more information because of the active criminal investigation and have both warned that public speculation could be harmful.

Speaking at the community meeting on Thursday, at which police were subjected to cries of "murderers", IPCC commissioner Cindy Butts revealed that the officer had been arrested and interviewed under caution.

Neil Hall / Reuters

IPCC commissioner Cindy Butts speaks at a public meeting about the shooting of Jermaine Baker by armed police.

She said: "On Sunday there was evidence to indicate that a potential criminal offence may have been committed by the officer in his use of lethal force. We therefore made the decision to begin a criminal homicide investigation.

"This is not a decision we took lightly. Our decision followed careful consideration of the evidence available and whether that evidence met the legal requirement that meant a criminal investigation should be carried out."

Assistant Commissioner Helen King from Scotland Yard and Haringey's borough commander, Victor Olisa, also appeared at the meeting to explain the investigation process.

Olisa said in a statement that he would listen to and understand public concerns.

"It is only through a transparent and meticulous investigation that the best interests of justice and of all those affected can be served," he said.

Tottenham MP David Lammy compared the incident to Duggan's death four years ago and said local people were concerned the officers who took part in the 11 December operation weren't wearing body cameras.

He told BuzzFeed News that community fears have been building for years as a result:

"This is the eye of the storm. It's about the policing strategy overall – it's formulated based on racial prejudices that are historical in the British justice system.

"It's not surprising that if you're black you're 10 times more likely to be stopped and searched; it's not surprising that you're more likely to get a longer sentence; it's not surprising that we're over-represented in mental health institutions.

"All these things stem from a source and it has to be unpicked."

Speaking on the Today programme on Thursday, Lammy said: "There was a lot of anger about the fact that there were no [body] cameras in use, despite that being one of the promises that came out of the death of Mark Duggan. There was a lot of concern about [whether] police were conferring quickly after the incident. Again that was an issue that came after Mark Duggan's death."

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Peter Terry said the Met's "first thoughts" are with Baker's family but stressed that armed officers deal with "the most high-risk situations there are in policing".

"This is an independent investigation being carried out by the IPCC, and they are accountable and responsible for it. It is absolutely vital that the facts of what took place are thoroughly established, as quickly as possible," he said.

"Our first thoughts are with Mr Baker's family at this difficult time as they await the outcome of this investigation.

"As police officers, we are all fully aware that we will be asked to account for our actions. We are not exempt from the law and would not wish to be."

He added that the force was continuing to "offer every possible support to the officer, and their family, and to the officer's colleagues" and that armed officers needed to have the "confidence to make the most difficult of decisions, often in split seconds".

A spokesperson for the Police Federation said: "It's a week before Christmas and this individual's [the officer's] life has been thrown into disarray."

Patrick Smith is a senior reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Patrick Smith at patrick.smith@buzzfeed.com.

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