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Met firearms officers cleared of gross misconduct over Wimbledon shooting

The disciplinary hearing followed an investigation by the IOPC (Nick Ansell/PA)
The disciplinary hearing followed an investigation by the IOPC (Nick Ansell/PA)

Two Metropolitan Police firearms officers have been cleared of gross misconduct at a disciplinary hearing, after a suspect was shot in the back as he ran away in south-west London.

The officers, known as NX1 and MY55 and both from the Met’s firearms command, faced an allegation that their use of force breached the police standards of professional behaviour, after Brooklyn McFarlane, who was 23, was injured after he was shot in the back in Haydons Road, Wimbledon, on December 3 2018.

The officers were cleared on Friday after a three-week disciplinary hearing, which followed an investigation by the watchdog Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).

It comes after the IOPC referred a file of evidence to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) which authorised a charge of causing grievous bodily harm with intent against officer NX1 and attempted grievous bodily harm with intent against officer MY55.

The watchdog also directed the Met to organise gross misconduct hearings for the two officers.

But on October 11 2021, the officers were acquitted after the CPS offered no evidence against them on the first day of their trial.

The CPS said that having conducted a re-review of the evidence, including video and expert evidence, there no longer remained a realistic prospect of conviction, according to the IOPC.

In November 2022, McFarlane was sentenced to 13 years in prison for conspiracy to commit robbery, weapons offences and handling stolen goods.

On the day of the incident, Met officers were conducting a pre-planned operation into a suspected attempt to commit a robbery of a cash-in-transit van parked in Haydons Road, the IOPC said.

Officers observed McFarlane acting suspiciously near the cash-in-transit van.

Armed police tried to apprehend him in Haccombe Road but he ran off along Haydons Road.

He was chased on foot by armed police, and the two officers, who both mistakenly believed McFarlane was carrying a gun, each fired their weapon once, with one bullet hitting McFarlane in the back, the IOPC added.

The other shot missed him and most likely hit a nearby block of flats.

McFarlane continued to run before surrendering to armed officers on Lacock Close.

The officers gave him first aid before he was taken to hospital. He was discharged the following day after the removal of a police bullet.

A disciplinary panel, led by an independent legally-qualified chairman, has decided the officers’ use of force in shooting at McFarlane did not breach the standards of professional behaviour and no misconduct was committed.

During the investigation, investigators interviewed the officers, obtained statements from several witnesses, CCTV evidence, ballistic evidence and commissioned a series of experts.

IOPC regional director Mel Palmer said: “Although the CPS did not take a criminal case forward, we believed that there was enough evidence for a panel to consider whether the officers’ actions amounted to gross misconduct.

“We didn’t come to this decision lightly, but we felt it was right that the evidence was heard in public at a hearing. We also respect the panel’s decision to clear the officers.”

She added that officers “should not have to wait this long for disciplinary matters to be heard” and said the IOPC acknowledge the “significant impact this case and the delays have had on the officers, their families and everyone involved”.

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley said: “I can’t imagine how difficult it has been for these two officers to wait so long to finally be cleared of wrongdoing. This will have put untold strain on their professional and personal lives and those of their families.

“Why is it the case that if an armed officer discharges their weapon during a terrorist incident the system can clear them within months, but officers taking on a ruthless gang of armed robbers face a five year ordeal? That isn’t right.

“We ask our armed officers to confront the most dangerous criminals, taking huge personal risks to ensure the safety of the public.

Sir Mark Rowley
Sir Mark Rowley (James Manning/PA)

“Like the majority in policing, they don’t shy away from accountability. They know they’re given significant powers, including the ability to use potentially lethal force against people.

“Any use of those powers needs to be open to scrutiny. But the systems that deliver that scrutiny must be fair, efficient and competent and, as it stands, they fail those tests too often.

“The recent Home Office Accountability Review resulted in some initial steps being taken in the right direction, but it didn’t go far enough to restore the trust of officers.

“It made progress on consultations that officers are anxious to see turned into change.

“This case shows why further genuine reform is needed and we will continue to push for it in our discussions with Government, the CPS, the IOPC and others.”

A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police Federation said operational firearms officers “know the responsibility and accountability that comes with it” but they “must have confidence that they have the protection needed to do the difficult and dangerous job society expects of them”.

They added: “Police officers have no issue with being held accountable for their actions, we are the most accountable of public services.

“But this oversight should be fair and timely and not take more than five years.

“Who from the hindsight brigade, taking years to pore over the split-second decisions our colleagues have to make to keep the public safe, is held to account for what they have unnecessarily and protractedly put our colleagues through?

“We ask that our colleagues NX1 and MY55 are now left to carry on their careers.”