Gsoc to test if fatal shooting was 'proportionate'

Gsoc to test if fatal shooting was 'proportionate'

Protesters at Blanchardstown Garda Station on Thursday. Picture: Gareth Chaney/Collins

The Garda Ombudsman will compare the account of the garda who fatally shot George Nkencho with video footage of the incident and witnesses present to determine if the actions were “reasonable and proportionate”, sources have explained.

The test will assess whether the belief of the garda that there was an immediate threat to the life of other people was “honestly held” and justified.

Mr Nkencho, aged 27, was shot by one of two members of the Armed Support Unit outside his house on Manorfields Drive, Hartstown, west Dublin, at about 12.30pm on Wednesday.

The shots were fired after less-than-lethal weapons – two discharges of a Taser and one use of pepper spray – failed to subdue him.

The Irish Examiner understands that five, possibly six, shots were fired and that Mr Nkencho was hit four times, twice in the arm and twice in the chest.

Video footage capturing the shooting appears to show Mr Nkencho swinging and lunging at gardaí, with what is thought to have been a knife or bladed-weapon, when shots were discharged.

The footage shows Mr Nkencho continued to move and swing around even after initial shots were fired.

"Gsoc will assess the judgement of the guard against the evidence – the video evidence and other guards present," said a senior source. 

They will determine what was the guard's belief at the time of the immediate threat to life and were his actions reasonable and proportionate."

The family of the deceased have said Mr Nkencho suffered from “serious mental illness”, while Garda sources have said they were aware of domestic issues, but no criminal activities, involving him in the past.

The developments follow a highly-charged day in Blanchardstown, which began with a peaceful protest outside the local Garda Station, followed by a smaller demonstration through nearby Blanchardstown Shopping Centre and adjacent streets.

Demonstrators stopped a bus and ‘took the knee’ in front of it, adopting the symbolic Black Lives Matter act.

A smaller group banged on the shutters of the Eurospar shop where Mr Nkencho had assaulted a manager 20 minutes before the shooting, reportedly breaking his nose and jaw, which prompted the initial Garda response.

Some protestors also surrounded a Garda car outside the shop, kicked at it and threw some objects.

Garda sources said only relatively “small incidents” took place and that no arrests had been made. They said they were monitoring the situation and hoping the tension would abate.

Sources said senior officers met with the deceased’s family at Blanchardstown Garda Station and that diversity officers were in the community throughout the day talking to the wider black community and community leaders.

Earlier, a statement issued by the deceased’s sister Gloria said: “My siblings and I have witnessed the most traumatic experience of our lives as our brother was shot in front of us.” 

The Irish Council for Civil Liberties said it was “essential that the family of Mr Nkencho, and the wider public”, were kept fully informed of the nature and progress of all relevant investigations.

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