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JURY CONCLUDES MULTIPLE POLICE FAILURES LED TO 1985 SHOOTING OF CHERRY GROCE
10 July 2014
An inquest jury found today that the death of Mrs Dorothy “Cherry” Groce was the result of serious and multiple police failures on the part of officers across the ranks.The jury concluded that:
Mrs. Groce was shot by police during a planned surprise, forced entry raid on her home and her subsequent death was contributed to by failures in the planning and implementation of that “raid”.
A copy of the inquisition outlining 8 separate police failings identified by the jury can be accessed here.
Lee Lawrence, Mrs Groce’s son, said:
“We have always known that the shooting of our mum was not an accident. For 29 years the police have had a copy of the report which clearly identifies the multiple, serious failures behind the shooting. However, that report was not shared with my family until the run up to this inquest. The verdict of this jury serves to break the silence in which we have suffered since the shooting in September 1985. My mum is the hero in this: she inspired us as a family to fight for the truth. Today the truth is our victory.”
Deborah Coles, co-director of INQUEST said:
“The shooting of Cherry Groce was devastating for her and her family. Their 29 year struggle for accountability included a lengthy battle to obtain public funding to be represented at the inquest, in circumstances where apparently unlimited funds are available to the Commissioner and individual police officers. Legal aid ensured the first and only rigorous public examination of the evidence which has resulted in today's welcome conclusion.
“It is vital both for the family and public interest that when citizens are shot by police officers, there is a robust and fearless inquiry into the appropriateness and lawfulness of that use of force. However cuts to legal aid mean that similar cases may well not receive this kind of vital public scrutiny.
“Cherry Groce’s shooting also raised important concerns about the oppressive policing of the black community and the use of lethal force by the police generally: concerns as pertinent now as they were three decades ago.”
Clare Richardson of Bhatt Murphy, solicitors, for the family said:
“In the last two weeks the inquest jury heard evidence of the series of catastrophic police failures that led to the shooting of Mrs Groce. Those failures were first brought of the attention of the then Metropolitan Police Commissioner 29 years ago. The fact that these failures have now seen the light of day is thanks to the determination and courage of the family of Mrs Groce, and for this we all owe them a debt of gratitude.”
Shadow Business Secretary Chuka Umunna MP said:
“In pursuing justice for their mother and fighting to ensure they received legal aid to be represented at the inquest into her death, my constituents – the family of Cherry Groce – have been completely vindicated by the jury’s findings.
“It is a disgrace that my constituents – all innocent victims of a grave injustice - have had to wait almost three decades to get to the bottom of what happened that fateful day in 1985 when their mother was shot by the Metropolitan Police. That Cherry Groce never lived to hear the jury’s findings today compounds the injustice my constituents feel.
“The findings of the jury are very welcome and resounding. The staggering ineptitude and incompetence of the police at the time – who should have called off the raid they carried out and did not properly check who lived in the home – are astonishing. The family now deserve nothing less than a full, proper, formal apology on behalf of the Met by the Commissioner for what happened.
“Much progress has been made with regard to police community relations since the 1980s. But cases such as this and ongoing injustices surrounding issues like stop and search and deaths in police custody, highlight there is still a long way to go before we reach the levels of trust in the Police that we all want to see.”
The family's full statement can be accessed here
Extracts from Assistant Chief Constable Domaille’s report, which were read to the jury, can be downloaded here
The family of Cherry Groce is supported by INQUEST. The family is represented by INQUEST Lawyers Group members Mark Scott and Clare Richardson of Bhatt Murphy solicitors, and Dexter Dias QC and Richard Reynolds of Garden Court Chambers.
Notes to editors:
1. As a result of his mother’s death, Lee Lawrence has founded the Cherry Groce Foundation, which ‘supports the lives of adults who have become disabled through personal tragedy, deterioration of health or illness in order that they can live more independently’.
‘No other organisation has worked so closely with bereaved families throughout the investigation and inquest process. INQUEST has a unique insight into the daily difficulties families face while striving to cope in the aftermath of a death in custody. The Skills and Support Toolkit can provide you with practical advice needed to continue and maintain your day to day life at a time when even the simplest of tasks can seem insurmountable, or help you develop the skills needed to mount a campaign. ’
– Mother of a child who died in prison