London’s police force has reported that some officers are declining to conduct armed patrols after a fellow officer was charged with murder in the shooting death of an unarmed Black man. The Metropolitan Police marksman, whose identity has not been disclosed, was charged on Wednesday for the September 2022 killing of 24-year-old Chris Kaba. Kaba was fatally shot when officers pursued and stopped the vehicle he was driving, with a single bullet fired through the windshield. The incident has reignited allegations of institutional racism within the London police department.
In response to the murder charge, a number of officers have chosen to step back from armed duties as they contemplate their position. Concerns have been raised that the charge signifies a shift in how their decisions in challenging circumstances will be judged. Over 100 officers have reportedly surrendered their firearm permits, leading to neighboring police forces being called in to assist with patrolling London on Saturday night.
Home Secretary Suella Braverman, responsible for policing in the UK’s Conservative government, has pledged to review armed policing to ensure that officers feel confident in carrying out their duties. Braverman emphasized the need for officers to make split-second decisions under immense pressure without fearing legal repercussions. She expressed her full support for officers risking their lives to maintain public safety.
Fatal shootings by police in the UK are rare, with official statistics indicating that armed officers in England and Wales discharged their weapons at individuals only four times in the year leading up to March 2022. It is also uncommon for British police officers to face murder or manslaughter charges for actions performed while on duty. One notable exception was the case of police constable Benjamin Monk, who was sentenced to eight years in prison in 2021 for the manslaughter of former professional soccer player Dalian Atkinson.