The cop who shot Chris Kaba dead in south London on 5 September 2022 has been charged with murder. People are labelling the decision by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) as “historic”. However, others are being cautious and reminding us that the Met Police are still institutionally racist.
Chris Kaba: a cop up on a murder charge
As the Canary previously reported:
Police shot Chris in Streatham, south London, on Monday 5 September. He wasn’t carrying a firearm. BBC News reported the Independent Office for Police Conduct’s (IOPC) excuse for Kaba’s death as being that the car he was driving was linked to a previous firearms incident. Chris’s father, Prosper, said his son’s killing was “racist” and “criminal”.
The IOPC carried out a homicide investigation into Chris’s killing. In March 2023, it passed its conclusions to the CPS. Now, as campaign group INQUEST wrote, the cop who fired the shot that killed Chris has been charged with murder:
The officer will appear before Westminster Magistrates Court tomorrow (21 September). The officer is known only as NX121 at this stage.
Chris’s family has been waiting over a year for this decision. During this time, the family, their supporters, and Black communities have had to repeatedly protest to ensure Chris’s case stays in the public eye:
This is no small thing. Well done to all those who have kept Chris Kaba's murder in the public eye, and have fought to ensure appropriate charges would be brought forward. https://t.co/gQNj0UKrOd
— Dr Selina Stone (@SelinaRStone) September 20, 2023
However, Canary writer Ife Thompson still rightly pointed out the length of time it took to charge the cop:
It took a whole year for the officer who killed Chris Kaba to be charged for Murder. For a whole year, this Officer has been with his family and loved ones whilst Chris will never be able to return home to his. #justiceforchriskaba https://t.co/qJ8KPEjjYs
— Duchess of Brixton🇯🇲🇳🇬 ☭ (@fufuisonme) September 20, 2023
Institutional violence – yet no one is accountable
INQUEST pointed out that since 1990, no cop has ever been successfully prosecuted for murder. Only one has been successfully prosecuted for manslaughter. The CPS has only ever brought ten other murder or manslaughter charges against cops – and none of these were successful. This is despite there being, as INQUEST noted, “1,871 deaths in or following police custody or contact in England and Wales”. That’s a conviction rate of 0.05%.
So, as author Dr Muna Abdi noted, the CPS charging a cop should be viewed with caution – as it doesn’t mean they’ll be convicted:
It’s taken a year… a year. And I still don’t trust that this will result in the outcome it needs to.
Chris Kaba: Met Police officer to be charged with murder – BBC News https://t.co/kSnWRcMMoF
— Dr Muna Abdi منى عبدي (@Muna_Abdi_Phd) September 20, 2023
Moreover, campaigner Tashmia Owen pointed out what the predictable response from the press might be:
Hmn. Unfortunately now will be when they shred anything remaining of his character in order to create another narrative for the judge and jury.
— Tashmia Owen FRSA (@dancinginshado) September 20, 2023
Of course, the UK corporate media has form on this – as does the criminal justice system. Cops killed Mark Duggan in August 2011, and as the Canary previously reported:
Despite police claiming he had a gun in a sock, the inquest into his death found he was unarmed at the time he was killed… he was smeared in the press as a gangster, this was aided by police officers, one of whom testified at his inquest that he was “among Europe’s most violent criminals”. However, no evidence was given to back up this claim, and Duggan only had two convictions for minor offences. Furthermore, an image of Duggan grieving at his daughter’s funeral was deliberately cropped to accompany gang related articles. Despite being unarmed, the inquest jury still ruled it was a lawful killing.
Ultimately though, as Michael Morgan noted:
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has today announced the Met Police Officer who shot Chris Kaba is being charged with murder.
Let’s never forget the Met police are institutionally racist. Justice inches closer for the family. https://t.co/Q47DnPGHYs
— Michael Morgan (@mikecmorgan) September 20, 2023
Charging one cop with a Black man’s murder doesn’t address the Met Police’s institutional racism. Nor does the Met’s current campaign around its tattered reputation.
The Met: broken beyond repair
Currently, the force is conducting a purge of what the media has branded “rogue officers” – like Wayne Couzens, who kidnapped, raped, and murdered Sarah Everard. However, the idea that the Met’s problems are due to rogue officers or ‘bad apples’ is preposterous.
Even by its own metrics, the Met has suspended 201 officers and put 860 more on restricted duties as it investigates them. That’s over 3 in every 100 officers who have done something so serious it warrants action against them. And that’s just the ones we know about.
It’s institutional racism, misogyny, and homophobia which pervades the Met Police, not bad apples – and which ultimately comes from the state itself. The CPS is charging a cop with Chris’s murder against this backdrop.
This changes nothing
The CPS’s decision is a huge move forward for Chris’s family. It is also a significant moment for Black communities.
But let’s be clear: this changes nothing. The Met, and ultimately the British state, are still racist, colonialist endeavours which subject Black people to violence in a society that has white supremacy as its lynchpin. Charging one cop won’t change this – and to think it will is just enabling the subjugation of marginalised communities to continue.
Featured image via the Canary
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