Jermaine Baker who was shot dead by police marksman 'lawfully killed'

Unarmed Jermaine Baker who was shot dead by Met Police marksman in foiled prison breakout plot was lawfully killed, inquiry finds

  • Mr Baker was among group trying to free two inmates from a prison van in 2015
  • The 28-year-old was shot dead by a police marksman, known only as W80
  • He said he thought Mr Baker, a front seat passenger, was reaching for a gun 

An unarmed father-of-two was ‘lawfully killed’ by a firearms officer during a foiled prison break – but the Met made numerous failures in the planning and execution of the operation, an inquiry has concluded.

Jermaine Baker was fatally shot at close range by police as he sat in the front passenger seat of a stolen Audi A6 near Wood Green Crown Court in north London in December 2015.

Officers suspected he was one of three men waiting to try and break inmate Izzet Eren, a member of notoriously violent gang, the Tottenham Boys, out of a prison van. 

Eren – a Turkish gangster – was jailed for 21 years earlier in 2015 after being caught carrying a loaded pistol and a machine gun in north London while allegedly on his way to carry out a shooting.

He was transferred to a jail in his homeland in August 2019, but absconded from that prison a month later, before being busted by police in Moldova in May this year.

Mr Baker, from Tottenham, was unarmed at the time he was shot by a counter-terrorism specialist firearms officer known only as W80, who told the inquiry he thought the 28-year-old was reaching for a weapon.

An imitation firearm was later found in the rear of the Audi.

Inquiry chairman His Honour Clement Goldstone QC concluded that, while Mr Baker was lawfully killed, there were police failings at almost every stage of the operation, which would ‘serve as a loud wake-up call’ to the next Metropolitan Police Commissioner, following the resignation of Dame Cressida Dick.

Jermaine Baker was fatally shot at close range as he sat in the front passenger seat of a stolen Audi A6 near Wood Green Crown Court in north London in December 2015 by police who suspected he and other conspirators were about to free a dangerous prisoner from a custody van

Mr Baker was fatally shot by an officer during a Metropolitan Police operation which thwarted a plot to snatch Izzet Eren (above) and his co-defendant in December 2015

Officers suspected Mr Baker was one of three men waiting to try and break inmate Izzet Eren, a member of notoriously violent gang, the Tottenham Boys, out of a prison van. 

Eren – a Turkish gangster – was jailed for 21 years earlier in 2015 after being caught carrying a loaded pistol and a machine gun in north London while allegedly on his way to carry out a shooting.

He was described by police as ‘a senior member of a Turkish crime group’, who had reportedly returned to the UK in breach of a deportation order having been sentenced for drug trafficking offences.

His gang, the Tottenham Turks, had a long-running feud with the rival Hackney Turks, which resulted in multiple shootings, both in London and in Turkey, dating to 2009.

Eren, now 39, was transferred to a jail in his homeland in August 2019, but absconded from that prison a month later, before being busted by police in Moldova in May this year.

Commander Fiona Mallon, Specialist Crime, said: ‘I thank the Moldovan authorities, the National Crime Agency and the Crown Prosecution Service for their assistance in achieving this significant outcome.

‘The Metropolitan Police Serious Crime Manhunt team works around the clock to track down the criminals ‘most wanted’ by the Met. In this case, a hugely complex investigation was launched to establish Eren’s whereabouts, with a wide range of investigative and sensitive intelligence opportunities exploited.

‘This arrest sends a clear message to all those who commit serious crime in London: if you run, we will locate you and you will be brought to justice.’

He said: ‘I conclude that, when W80 shot Mr Baker, he held an honest and genuine belief that Mr Baker was moving in order to reach for the firearm.

‘As such, W80 perceived that Mr Baker posed a lethal threat… I draw the conclusion, on the balance of probabilities, that the perceived threat from the actions and movement of Mr Baker was such that W80 honestly believed that it was reasonably necessary for him to shoot at Mr Baker.’

Mr Baker’s mother, Margaret Smith, said her son was ‘no angel’, but that he ‘should have gone to prison’ rather than be fatally shot, and called on the inquiry chairman to consider whether her son being black could have been a factor in him being killed.

But Mr Goldstone said he ‘found no evidence to support a finding that race played any part in Mr Baker’s death’.

He also said that W80’s ‘overall credibility’ as a witness ‘remained largely intact’.

The inquiry chairman highlighted a number of failures, including that public safety should have been – but was not – the primary objective of the operation, that intelligence that the conspirators had only been able to source an imitation firearm was not passed on to W80 and others, and the ‘delusional’ idea that the operation would succeed in ridding the streets of north London of lethal firearms.

The inquiry heard that Mr Baker may have been asleep at the time he was shot, and may have misunderstood contradictory instructions shouted by armed officers who challenged the men in the Audi.

A police bug in the car captured a wall of noise with some officers telling the group to raise their hands, while W80 said he had instructed Mr Baker to put his hands on the dashboard.

No live firearm was found in the car in which Mr Baker was a front seat passenger, but a replica Uzi was discovered in the back of the car.

Officers had intelligence that the group had been unable to obtain a real gun, but this information was not passed on to the firearms team who confronted the men.

W80 told the inquiry he was convinced that they would be armed and would fight their way out rather than surrender when challenged by armed police.

The terms of reference for the inquiry covered the planning of the armed operation, what information was available to those involved, how the operation was led and what the officers did on the ground, an what happened in the aftermath of the shooting.

The CPS decided not to bring criminal charges against W80 in 2017, and the officer is involved in a legal battle over whether he should face misconduct proceedings.

Officers at the scene in Bracknell Close, Wood Green north London in 2015 after Jermaine Baker died after being shot during an ‘intelligence led’ police operation

Mr Baker’s mother, Margaret Smith, told the inquiry that the value of her son’s life had been forgotten by police officers involved in the operation.

During evidence hearings last summer, she said her son had been written off by teachers at school and later struggled to find work after serving a prison sentence.

She said: ‘This could happen to anyone. Jermaine’s life was exceptional and unusual in the way that it ended, but the story of being written off as a child could be told by so many black boys and young men.’

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