A report from the police watchdog, the Independent office for Police Conduct (IOPC), has said armed officers involved in the shooting of a man in Frankley in 2017 ‘followed policy and procedure’ throughout the incident.
The IOPC were called to investigate when local man Sharif Cousins was shot by officers in an alleyway on the evening of Wednesday 26th July 2017.
Armed West Midlands Police officers had been deployed in response to intelligence about firearms.
A man who was with Mr Cousins at the time he was shot was arrested on suspicion of firearms offences at the time of the shooting. He was convicted, with others, of firearms-related offences at Birmingham Crown Court in February last year 2018.
As part of their thorough investigation, IOPC investigators reviewed body worn video from the officer who fired the single shot, looked at ballistics analysis, gathered statements from officers and independent witnesses, looked at the firearms authorisations of officers involved and reviewed police radio transmissions.
All police officers were treated as witnesses throughout the investigation which was completed within a year. The results of the investigation were unable to be published until now, for operational reasons.
The IPOC said: “Discussions with the force over sensitive operational information and other issues affecting publication have meant we have been unable to release our findings until now.”
IOPC Regional Director Derrick Campbell said: “We recognise that serious incidents of this nature can be of great concern to the community and everyone connected. Thankfully Mr Cousins recovered from his injuries.
“Our thorough investigation examined the actions of all the police involved, including the officer who fired the shot, and we found that they were in line with policy and procedure.
“The police officers who carried out the operation had been briefed that they might face an armed threat and that gang members involved in gun crime in the region often hid weapons down the back of their trousers. Body worn video supported the account given by the officer who said Mr Cousins did not immediately comply with commands to raise his hands and appeared to be reaching behind to get something out of a pocket, which at that moment he thought was a gun.
“In our view the officer concerned believed that there was an immediate and genuine risk posed to him, and his colleague, when he made the split-second decision to shoot.”
Mr Cousins later complained about the way he was dealt with by police immediately after he was shot, and claimed that he was targeted by the police that evening.
However, after studying the evidence, the IOPC said it did not uphold the complaints. Footage showed that after the shooting officers moved quickly to provide first aid until the arrival of the medical services, who took over and conveyed Mr Cousins to hospital.
The investigation also confirmed that no prior intelligence existed which named Sharif Cousins as a subject of, or being of interest to, the police operation. In fact, police only learned of his identity after he had been taken to hospital.