Sean Fitzgerald: Family of man shot dead by police in Coventry demand end date for investigation

Sean Fitzgerald, who was shot dead by police in Coventry
Sean Fitzgerald died in Coventry after being shot in the chest in 2019. Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

The family of Sean Fitzgerald have called on the police watchdog to conclude its investigation into the fatal shooting of the 31-year-old by an officer - as they are still without answers four years on.

Mr Fitzgerald, who was unarmed, died after he was shot in the chest by a firearms officer after leaving a property in Burnaby Road in Coventry around 6.20pm on January 4, 2019.

Liam Fitzgerald, Sean's brother, is calling on the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) to release a date for when it will complete its investigation and decide whether it will recommend the case be sent to the CPS for a charging decision.

Sean Fitzgerald died after leaving a property in Burnaby Road in Coventry on January 4, 2019. Credit: PA

In a statement calling on the IOPC, Liam Fitzgerald said: "We have had to fight and argue our case to seek to ensure a thorough investigation, an investigation that we were told would take three to six months.

"We have waited patiently for all this time.

"We are not prepared to wait any longer with no end in sight, which is why we now ask that the IOPC provide a date by which they will complete their investigation and decide whether to refer the case to the CPS for a charging decision, as we believe they should.”

The investigation into Mr Fitzgerald's death has been deemed one of the longest-standing the IOPC has seen in recent years, according to the legal charity Inquest.

Anita Sharma, head of casework at Inquest, said: "Bereaved families and the public deserve urgent and robust scrutiny of the highest standard following lethal use of police force.

"The IOPC’s four-year investigation into Sean’s death is now one of the longest-standing Inquest has seen in recent times. It is unacceptable."

She added the IOPC must now abide by the family's request after set backs for the investigation.

"The ongoing delay not only compounds the pain and grief of Sean’s family, but also frustrates the role the IOPC has in the prevention of further deaths," she said.

"The IOPC must now provide the family with the dignity of a date by which their investigation will conclude and the long-awaited answers around the full circumstances of Sean’s death.”

Floral tributes were left at a house on Burnaby Road in Coventry four years ago. Credit: PA

The IOPC Regional Director, Derrick Campbell, said the investigation had been "delayed to allow for further analysis of evidence".

He said: "This has been a complex investigation and, although we were at an advanced stage last summer, I felt that further independent analysis was required in order to fully consider some of the evidence.

"Delays, which included identifying someone suitably qualified to carry out this work, have been resolved and an expert’s report was received shortly before Christmas. This is now being considered.

"We acknowledge the concerns expressed by Mr Fitzgerald’s family and the delays in bringing matters to their conclusion are regrettable."

Mr Campbell went on to say the victim's family has been kept updated with the progression of the investigation.

He said: "We have informed Mr Fitzgerald’s family of the latest developments and our thoughts remain with them and everyone else affected by his death."

Speaking about the timeliness of IOPC investigations, Mr Campbell said completing cases quickly remains a priority. He added the IOPC had completed 90% of independent investigations within 12 months.

The IOPC confirmed a single round was fired by an officer in Coventry as he emerged from the rear of the property as other officers were entering through the front.

A gross misconduct notice was issued to the officer in April 2021 in respect of their use of force on Mr Fitzgerald during the police operation.

In March 2022, the IOPC announced that the officer was being investigated for potential homicide offences over the incident.

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know.