Met chief denies firearms officers made walkout threat after Chris Kaba case
Mark Rowley says claim that officers threatened to hand in weapons over suspension is ‘misreported nonsense’
The new head of the Metropolitan police has dismissed suggestions that firearms officers threatened to walk out of their roles in protest at the suspension of a colleague who fired the shot that killed an unarmed black man.
Chris Kaba was killed after a vehicle stop on 5 September in Streatham Hill, south London, when the Audi he was driving was hemmed in by two police vehicles in Kirkstall Gardens, a narrow residential street, and one round was fired from a police weapon.
The officer who fired the shot was initially placed on restricted duties but was then suspended after the IOPC launched a homicide investigation. It was reported that colleagues of the firearms officer threatened to hand in their weapons in protest at the decision.
Sir Mark Rowley, who started as head of Britain’s biggest police force two weeks ago, said: “It’s misreported nonsense. I have a very, very dedicated group of firearms officers who go out day in and day out, confronting the most extraordinarily difficult situations to protect London, and they wouldn’t put their firearms and let down London.”
He also dismissed suggestions he had so far refused to meet the president of the National Black Police Association, Andy George, and said he had already had three lengthy conversations with the chair of the Metropolitan Black Police Association.
George’s request for an urgent meeting with Rowley was said to have been rejected in an email last Wednesday, as first reported in the Guardian.
“I don’t quite understand the nonsense about this frankly, I’ve had a fairly busy first couple of weeks with the state funeral and a few other events, as you’ll appreciate,” Rowley told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
“In that time I’ve had three long conversations with the chair of the Met Black Police Association who understands issues in London, and the national chair, who is a Northern Ireland officer. We have said he’s more than welcome to join one of those future conversations.
“I don’t quite understand why he’s so anxious about that and I’ll keep talking to the local officers who understand London.”
Rowley addressed reports that he would not allow his officers to take the knee, a symbolic gesture against racism.
“We operate without fear or favour, that’s the most important thing,” he said. “Whether a cause has 99% public support or 1% public support, police should remain neutral in how they police it. We should not show any allegiance to causes, however noble or not.”