23rd September 2016

North London Coroner’s Court
HMC Andrew Walker

A jury sitting at North London Coroner’s Court have today found that James Fox was lawfully killed following his fatal shooting by Metropolitan officers.   The jury found that Mr Fox had been given no time to react between the shout of armed police and the first shot.

On the 30 August 2015, 43-year-old James Fox was fatally shot by MPS officers in the doorway of his home in Picardy House, Enfield.   James was shot 5 times by two officers at close range.  He was struck once in the head, three times in the chest and once in the arm.  He died at the scene. 

James was known by police to be vulnerable with a history of mental health difficulties.  Police were called at 9.35pm in response to threats made by James to members of his family.  An armed unit was dispatched to James’ flat. A briefing was given to officers outside Picardy House at 11pm.  Negotiators were not engaged until after armed officers had entered the flats. 

CCTV footage showed noise being made by officers as they entered the building and ascended the stairs to the 6th floor, where they positioned themselves outside James’ flat.  Officers gave evidence of their intended plan to telephone James’ landline to check his presence in the flat and to make contact. 

A Police Chief Inspector agreed that unnecessary noise was made on the stairs when approaching the flat.  One of the principle shooting officers (M27) gave evidence of being caught by surprise when James started opening his front door.  A warning of ‘armed police’ was shouted as the door was opened.  M27 admitted their position directly in front of James’ door significantly increased the risk of shooting, giving neither time nor space for James to react to the presence of armed officers. 

The jury found that Mr Fox had been given no time to react between the shout of armed police and the first shot.

In his evidence James’ father, Eamonn Fox, described how James had developed depression following a series of difficult life events, including the death of his brother, and that he would resort to alcohol during times when he would stop taking his medication.  He had suffered mental health crises before and was admitted to hospital for mental health treatment on at least two occasions, including on one occasion in 2014 when the police had assisted.  According to his evidence, on the evening of James’ death, he had informed police repeatedly that James was armed only with an air pistol.  He described his regret at the police’s failure to inform him that an armed unit was being sent to James’ home and the lack of any opportunity given for him to speak with James to calm him and help safely de-escalate the situation.



Eamonn Fox, James’ father:

“James struggled with bouts of depression and at times resorted to alcohol.  He had difficult episodes and would throw out threats when he had been drinking but I was always able to calm him.  I never in my life felt threatened by him or in any way at risk.  An officer was present in my home throughout the evening that James was shot and yet no-one told me what was being planned.  Had I known I would have been straight over to speak with James and I believe without question he would be alive today.  He would always listen to me.  Being told that he had been shot dead was like waking up in a nightmare.  I still cannot believe it.  James just needed help.” 

Deborah Coles, INQUEST:

“James was shot five times at close range.  He had battled for years with depression and it is shocking that events ended in this way.  The family were denied the chance to speak with him and will never know what difference this may have made.  The public need to know that with the recent decision to increase the arming of officers across the capital, all possible processes are in place to ensure the proportionate and justified use of force.”

Harpreet Aujla, the family’s solicitor: 

“Everybody agrees that this was a tragic event.  The family’s case has been that the police could have handled this incident better and possibly prevented James’ death.  It is hoped that issues surrounding protective equipment and police firearms training can be addressed following evidence we have heard in this inquest.”

Senior Coroner Andrew Walker has asked the parties to return on the 4 November to consider whether he intends to issue a ‘Prevention of Further Death’ report in response to the evidence heard during this inquest.

INQUEST has been working with the family.  The family is represented by INQUEST Lawyers Group members Harpreet Aujla of Matthew Gold Solicitors, Owen Greenhall of Garden Court Chambers.

Notes to editors:

2015 saw the highest number of fatal police shootings since 2010, two of those shootings involved the MPS. 

List of  fatal Police Shootings since 2010:


  • William Smith ( 36)       01/05/2016         Kent
  • James Wilson  ( 24)      01/04/2016         Northumbria
  • Jermaine Baker (28)      11/12/2015         Metropolitan
  • Richard Davies( 41)       21/10/2015        Cambridgeshire
  • James Fox (43)             30/08/2015        Metropolitan
  • Dean Joseph (40)          05/09/2014        Metropolitan
  • Anthony Grainger (36)   03/03/2012       Greater Manchester
  • Mark Duggan (29)         04/08/2011        Metropolitan
  • Michael Fitzpatrick (49)  10/02/2011        Sussex
  • Alistair Bell (42)            28/12/2010        West Yorkshire