UK & World News

  • 10 July 2014, 14:30

Brixton Riots Death Caused By Police Failures

The death of a mother whose shooting sparked the 1985 Brixton riots was partly caused by police failures, a jury has found.

Dorothy Groce, known as Cherry, died at the age of 63 from kidney failure in 2011 - 26 years after the shooting which was witnessed by her son Lee Lawrence, who was 11 at the time.

The mother of eight was wounded and paralysed during a planned armed raid by police officers at her home in south London - which jurors found should have been called off.

Officers were looking for her son Michael Groce - but had not been briefed beforehand that he was no longer wanted by the police.

It was understood he had fired at police two days earlier and had fled with a shotgun, when in fact he had fired accidentally and the weapon had been recovered, jurors found.

His mother's shooting sparked two days of unrest in Brixton during which shops were looted and petrol bombs thrown.

Jurors at Southwark Crown Court on Thursday also found police failed to properly communicate and adequately check who was living at the address - including women and children - before they entered the property.

After a six-day inquest and three days of deliberations, jurors concluded: "Dorothy Groce was shot by police during a planned surprise, forced entry raid at her home and her subsequent death was contributed to by failures in the planning and implementation of the raid."

Mrs Groce's family said in a statement afterwards: "After 29 years, it is now a matter of public record that the shooting of our mother and grandmother was not an accident.

"Instead the truth is that Cherry Groce was shot as a result of a series of astonishing failures by officers across the ranks to follow procedures designed to protect innocent members of the public."

Mr Lawrence said: "My mother was an innocent victim. I knew, she knew and we knew that what happened that day was wrong."

He added: "The inquest has given us the only opportunity to get down to the truth about what really happened the day she was shot.

"That's a battle we should never have had to go through to get answers that the Met knew that day."

Metropolitan Police Inspector Douglas Lovelock stood trial in 1987 for the shooting of Mrs Groce, who spent nearly three decades in a wheelchair.

He was charged with inflicting unlawful and malicious grievous bodily harm and was acquitted.

The officer, who admitted being responsible for the wound, told the inquest he had apprehensions about going on the job.

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