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13 August 2015

Inquest into police shooting finds death of Dean Joseph may have been avoided

3 mins

An inquest into the shooting of Mr Dean Joseph concluded that his death may have been avoidable. The jury found that Mr Joseph’s death may have been contributed to by failures by the police to warn Mr Joseph that he was at risk of being shot, and to provide officers at the scene with guidance from specialist trained police negotiators.

Dean Joseph was fatally shot by a Metropolitan police firearms officer in the early hours of 5 September 2014.

Police officers attended an address in Islington following a report of a disturbance and found Mr Joseph threatening his former partner with a knife. Firearms officers were sent to the scene and specialist police hostage negotiators were called out.

An unarmed police officer, who had no relevant training, was left to attempt negotiations with Mr Joseph for around an hour and a half, despite the presence of numerous firearms officers who had all received negotiation training.

A decision was made by a senior officer that the firearms operation would be overt; however, a number of firearms officers at the scene thought it was covert and, as a result, Mr Joseph was not warned that he was at risk of being shot.

The specialist negotiators arrived at the scene around an hour after being called out, but Mr Joseph was shot whilst they were still being briefed.

Yesterday the jury at the inquest into Mr Joseph’s death delivered its conclusion. Whilst finding that Mr Joseph was lawfully killed, the jury also concluded that the outcome – Mr Joseph’s death – may have been contributed to by inadequate communication and consideration about whether the firearms operation was overt or covert; the fact that Mr Joseph was never made aware that armed officers were present or warned that he might be shot; and the absence of any guidance from specially trained police negotiators.

Members of Mr Joseph’s family – including his sisters, Susan and Margaret; his nephew, Ryan; his cousin, Angus, and Angus’ partner, Teresa – attended each day and heard the officers give their evidence.

Susan, Dean’s sister says,

We are pleased that the jury has recognised the failings by the police and that Dean’s death might have been avoidable. It gives us hope that lessons will be learned and similar situations dealt with differently in the future.

Lana Adamou of Bindmans LLP, instructed by Susan Joseph comments:

This inquest has highlighted the importance of clear communications and the availability of specialist police negotiators in incidents involving firearms officers. Had Mr Joseph been warned of the presence of firearms officers, or had specialist negotiation guidance been provided, his death may have been averted. Over the last three weeks the Metropolitan Police Service has heard all the evidence relating to the circumstances surrounding Mr Joseph’s death. It is hoped that they will take urgent steps to address the issues that were identified in order to avoid future deaths in similar circumstances, and also to promote the integrity of subsequent investigations and public confidence by preventing officers from conferring with each other after a police shooting has taken place.

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