22 April 2021

Today, the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) has announced that a West Midlands firearms officer, who shot dead Sean Fitzgerald on 4 January 2019 during a police operation, has been served with a gross misconduct notice in respect of their use of force. Sean was 31 when he died after receiving a single gunshot wound to the chest as he exited a property in Burnaby Road in Coventry.

Liam Fitzgerald, Sean’s brother, responded saying: Whilst we are pleased that the officer who shot Sean has now at least been served with a gross misconduct notice, we are shocked that the IOPC considers that the officer should not be served with a notice that his actions are subject to a criminal investigation.

We have only been given limited information to date, but that information indicates that the officer should be under criminal investigation in close co-ordination with the CPS, with a charging decision being made without delay.

We also call upon West Midlands Police to reconsider the status of this officer. Sean was totally unarmed when he died as a result of this officer's actions and we don't believe he should be able to continue carrying a firearm when potential gross misconduct has been identified. 

Sean is greatly missed by all his family and friends and we continue to seek answers and justice for him.”

Helen Stone of Hickman and Rose, the solicitor for Liam Fitzgerald, said: It has been over two years since Sean’s death and his family needs answers. We expect the IOPC to carry out the rest of its investigation in a robust and timely manner so that they can receive these answers and to constantly review the need for a criminal investigation.”

Deborah Coles, Director of INQUEST, said: “Fatal use of force by the police requires the utmost scrutiny and investigation, uncovering any criminality or misconduct. We hope this announcement will mark a step forward in achieving accountability in this case. However, we share the frustration of Sean’s family that too often deaths in police custody in this country are not investigated to the criminal standard and police rarely face prosecution. At the very least, you would expect firearms officers potentially involved in gross misconduct would be prevented from continued public duties, as you would be in any other profession.”


For further information, interview requests and to note your interest, please contact Lucy McKay on 020 7263 1111 or [email protected]

Sean’s family are represented by INQUEST Lawyers Group members Helen Stone of Hickman and Rose and Adam Straw QC of Doughty Street Chambers. The family are supported by INQUEST caseworker Anita Sharma.

Data on fatal police shootings is available on the here.