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The Guardian - UK
The Guardian - UK
Jessica Murray

Trevor Smith: police shooting was lawful killing, jury finds

Trevor Smith who was fatally wounded by police at his flat in Birmingham in March 2019.
Trevor Smith who was fatally wounded by police at his flat in Birmingham in March 2019. Photograph: Smith Family/SWNS

A jury has ruled police lawfully killed a 52-year-old man who was hit by a ricocheting bullet during an arrest in Birmingham.

Trevor Smith was shot when police tried to arrest him at his home in the early hours of 15 March 2019.

At the conclusion of a two-week inquest, the jury found firearms officers had followed correct procedures and the fatal shot was fired because they believed they were in immediate danger.

Smith’s family said that while they acknowledged the ruling was appropriate within the parameters of the law, they were “very disappointed that the jury found no opportunity to be critical of any aspect of the police operation”.

“We have serious concerns about the operation including police conduct and use of inappropriate language, poor negotiating skills, decision-making, and leadership,” the family said in a statement.

“We leave the inquest dissatisfied with responses that the West Midlands police had no other option but to shoot and kill Trevor. Further, we remain unconvinced that the West Midlands police are sufficiently competent to effectively engage with people with mental ill health or that any tangible lessons have been learnt for future engagement with individuals from this most vulnerable group of our community.”

The inquest heard that Smith, who experienced mental health issues, had been reported to police by his former partner for threatening behaviour towards her. He allegedly once held a gun to her head, and sent her a WhatsApp message showing a gun on his sofa in which he threatened to “do her in”.

Armed police arrived at his flat, in Lee Bank, Birmingham, shortly before 5am to carry out a search warrant issued in order to find evidence of the alleged offences. Smith refused to leave his bedroom and was partially hidden by a duvet when an officer fired a bullet that ricocheted off the bed frame and hit Smith in the chest.

Officer N, who fired the fatal shot and was granted anonymity, told the court he discharged his firearm for “self-preservation” as he feared he or one of his colleagues would be shot. Body-worn video showed officers attempted to verbally engage with Smith prior to the shooting.

A black imitation handgun was recovered from the scene.

“We ask for change and reform, so that another life may not be lost at the hands of WMP, and another family not need to suffer and grieve,” Smith’s family said.

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