Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC - formerly IPCC)
Policy was followed during non-fatal police shooting in Birmingham
Our investigation following a non-fatal police shooting in Frankley, south Birmingham, found that the West Midlands Police officers involved followed policy and procedure throughout the incident.
Sharif Cousins, who was unarmed, was taken to hospital after being shot in the chest by a firearms officer in an alleyway off Epping Close on the evening of 26 July 2017.
Armed police had been deployed to the Frankley area in response to intelligence about firearms. Following further police investigation, a man who was with Mr Cousins at the time he was shot was convicted, with others, of firearms-related offences at Birmingham Crown Court in February last year (2018).
After being notified by West Midlands Police, IOPC investigators were sent to the scene and began an investigation. That included reviewing body worn video from the officer who fired the single shot.
IOPC Regional Director Derrick Campbell yesterday 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.
After studying the evidence available we 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.
Our 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
As well as studying body worn footage our investigation involved ballistics analysis, and gathering statements from officers and independent witnesses identified during house to house enquiries. In addition we looked at the firearms authorisations of the officers involved and reviewed police radio transmissions.
All police officers were treated as witnesses throughout our investigation which was completed within a year. 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.
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