Investigators have assured the local community they are committed to ”uncovering the truth” over the shooting by armed police of a man in Forest Hill on Sunday morning.
The assurance was given by Independent Police Complaints Commission member Mike Franklin to a public meeting on Monday night, attended by senior police officers and local people. Franklin had earlier met the man’s family in hospital, where he is said to be in a stable condition. The man, who is 25 and black, has not yet been identified.
The complaints watchdog will investigate the circumstances surrounding the shooting of the man, who reportedly threatened officers with a large knife.
Franklin told the meeting: “My pledge is that I will disclose as much information as possible when there is something to say and I won’t give anything out unless it’s verified by the investigation. If it turns out there has been misconduct, so be it.”
Commander Mak Chishty added: “Officers are accountable for every single shot.”
Franklin told residents that mistakes had been made over the Mark Duggan case last year – the shooting which led to the Tottenham riots – but vowed to be as open as possible about the progress of the investigation and urged witnesses to come forward.
Amidst fears of a repeat of last year’s events, Lewisham police said additional patrols have been assigned to the area and community support teams briefed on the incident. Police are also said to be monitoring social media and “constantly reviewing” intelligence to stay ahead of potential strife.
One person at the meeting, who declined to give their name said: “The police are scared – you can see it on their faces.”
The shooting occured when police responded to reports of a man breaking into a car on Elsinore Road in Forest Hill at around 5:40am on Sunday morning.
On arrival they were threatened by a man with a “large knife” and chased onto nearby Stanstead road, where arriving firearms officers surrounded him.
The officers tried and failed to subdue the man with Tasers before ”the situation led to the use of firearms”, according to a police statement.
A number of other knives were later found, though it is not known if these were linked to Sunday’s incident.
Chisty said officers “are allowed to take action with reasonable force” but refused to speculate on the circumstances of the shooting.
But Franklin added: “From what we know so far, I don’t think this fits the same sort of scenario of some of the cases that people are concerned about.”
Asked if there was any risk of disorder, he said: “There is nothing at this stage that we’ve seen that would indicate that.”
Franklin said the IPCC would react quickly to inaccurate media reports and pursue any issues through the Press Complaints Commission.
He went on: “Inaccurate reporting is very, very damaging to an investigation and also very painful to the people involved in the investigation.”
Some residents were suspicious while others expressed support.
One woman living nearby, who refused to be named, said: “It was positive in some aspects – it was good that it had the senior police and IPCC present.”
But she added: “I have a long-time distrust of the police as a black community member and I want to keep an open mind but right now I’m seeing yet another black man almost killed by the police and I will be keeping a very close eye on the course of the investigation.”
A special 0800 line will be set up for witness statements.