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Watchdog to consider whether race was a factor in fatal shooting of Chris Kaba

Rapper Chris Kaba who was shot by armed officers from the Metropolitan Police at Kirkstall Gardens, Streatham Hill, south London (Family handout/PA)
Rapper Chris Kaba who was shot by armed officers from the Metropolitan Police at Kirkstall Gardens, Streatham Hill, south London (Family handout/PA)

Investigators will consider whether race was a factor in the fatal shooting of Chris Kaba by an armed officer, the police watchdog has said.

However the dead man’s family have responded angrily at learning the investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) could take as long as nine months to conclude.

Issuing an update on its inquiries, the IOPC said it would “explore all of the circumstances” surrounding the death of the unarmed 24-year-old rapper, including whether “race influenced any actions taken by the police”.

Investigators will look into whether the police officers involved knew Mr Kaba before the incident, and how they came to be aware of the vehicle he had been driving, the watchdog said.

IOPC Regional Director Sal Naseem said the watchdog has been in contact with Mr Kaba’s family regarding the investigation, which is expected to take between six and nine months.

He said: “We fully appreciate that Chris Kaba’s devastated family and the community have a lot of unanswered questions about his death.

“We have been in further contact with Chris’s family this week to answer a number of questions they have and to offer them privately and confidentially the opportunity to view video footage as soon as it is practicable.

“We have also advised Chris’s family that we aim to complete our investigation within six to nine months.

“We understand that people want answers quickly, but this is a complex investigation involving a significant amount of evidence.

“There are a number of inquiries to carry out over the coming weeks and months, including expert analysis, and it is important that we allow our investigation to run its course as we seek to establish all of the facts.”

However,  lawyers acting on behalf of the Kaba family issued a statement voicing criticism of the IOPC.

Daniel Machover, Head of Civil Litigation at Hickman & Rose, said: “Six to nine months for this investigation is unacceptably long and lacks urgency.

“It indicates insufficient resources to do the job.

“Meanwhile, the IOPC continue to withhold basic information from the family.”

Chris Kaba protest
Protesters marched to New Scotland Yard, London, over the death of rapper Chris Kaba (Left Unity/PA)

Assistant Commissioner Amanda Pearson said the Metropolitan Police “fully supports” the IOPC investigation.

She said: “We continue to fully support the IOPC investigation as they work to establish the facts and try to answer the many questions Mr Kaba’s family and others have around his tragic death.

“We’ve been spending this week speaking with local communities across London, including our Independent Advisory Groups – we know how important it is we listen to their views and concerns and explain as far as we can what is happening. We welcome more of these important conversations.”

The Metropolitan Black Police Association (Met BPA) offered condolences to Mr Kaba’s family and said it supported the responses of the IOPC and the Met to the incident so far.

Speaking about the public response to the incident, a spokesperson for the group added: “There has been a legitimate and powerful show of community strength and unity.

“While heartening to see, it comes yet again through evident pain and frustration.

“This incident comes at a critical time when the MPS remains in special measures over a string of high profile and appalling incidents and are signed up to the Race Action Plan, which commits to fair treatment and anti-racism in policing.

“Therefore, it is vitally important these commitments manifest themselves in sensitive and meaningful engagement in the community, timely information and responsive support to the Kaba family.

“The Met BPA continue to be vocal as a critical friend to the Metropolitan Police and in support of London’s community.”

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “My heartfelt sympathies remain with Chris Kaba’s family, friends and loved ones, who are having to come to terms with a young life cut short.

“I’ve said from the outset that the IOPC must go wherever the evidence takes them and they have a duty to examine all the factors involved without fear or favour. I hope they can do so as swiftly as possible.

“I fully understand the grave concerns and impact of Chris Kaba’s death on Black Londoners across our city and the anger, pain and fear it has caused across our communities – as well as the desire for justice and change.

“The IOPC have confirmed to me that they are fully committed to carrying out a thorough and comprehensive investigation to establish all of the facts – with all key findings made public. I’m clear that the independent investigation must be fearless and leave no stone unturned.”

Mr Kaba, who was about to become a father, was killed on September 5 following a police pursuit of his car which ended in Streatham Hill, south London.

His Audi was hemmed in by two police vehicles in Kirkstall Gardens, a narrow residential street, and one round was fired from a police weapon.

The Metropolitan Police officer involved has been suspended by the force.

An inquest into Mr Kaba’s death will be opened on October 4.