At least 100 officers in the UK have handed in their weapons over the charging of a colleague with the murder of a Black expectant father. Chris Kaba, 24, died after he was shot in the head through the windscreen of a car he was driving in Streatham Hill, south east London, in September 2022.
This month, a firearms officer was charged with his murder, and appeared – identified only as NX121 – at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Thursday. Scotland Yard confirmed a number of the officer’s colleagues had stepped back from armed duties in fear over how future police shootings were judged by the Crown Prosecution Service.
It comes after Met commissioner Sir Mark Rowley, who has met and spoken to 70 firearms officers since the murder charge, said officers were feeling anxious over how “split-second decisions” might be assessed years after the event. A Met Police spokesperson said: “Senior officers, including the Commissioner, have been meeting with firearms officers in recent days as they reflect on the CPS decision to charge NX121 with murder.
“Many are worried about how the decision impacts on them, on their colleagues and on their families. They are concerned that it signals a shift in the way the decisions they take in the most challenging circumstances will be judged.
“A number of officers have taken the decision to step back from armed duties while they consider their position. We are in ongoing discussions with those officers to support them and to fully understand the genuinely held concerns that they have.” The spokesman added: “The Met has a significant firearms capability and we continue to have armed response teams deployed in communities across London to keep the public safe.”
Following a meeting with armed officers on Friday, Sir Rowley said: “They were understandably anxious as they consider how others may assess their split second decisions years after the event, with the luxury of as much time as they want to do this, and the effect this can have on them and their families.
“As I continue my work today, our firearms officers are on patrol deployed on proactive crime and counter terrorism operations as they are every day. “They are not only prepared to confront the armed and dangerous to protect London’s communities but they do so recognising the uniquely intense and lengthy personal accountability they will face for their split-second operational decisions. “Indeed, I understand why many of them are reflecting on the potential price of such weighty responsibilities. Bravery comes in many forms. “When officers have the levels of uncertainty and worry I saw in my colleagues today, simply going in and doing their jobs not knowing what incidents are ahead of them is courageous.”
District Judge Nina Tempia granted an order for anonymity for the firearms officer charged with Mr Kaba’s murder. At the second hearing at Central Criminal Court on Thursday afternoon, the Recorder of London Mark Lucraft KC said he would consider the anonymity applications next on September 29.
He also granted the defendant, who spoke only to confirm his identity as officer NX121, conditional bail. The defendant was told he must sleep and live at a specified address, surrender his passport and not apply for any international travel documents. A plea and trial preparation hearing was scheduled for December 1, with a provisional trial date set for 9 September next year.