Cherry Groce: I asked a police officer if I was going to die

A witness statement from Cherry Groce was read at her inquest today. It was given to police in October 1985, a few days after she was shoot by a police officer at her home in Brixton.

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Police marksman: I saw the flash and the next thing is Cherry Groce is on the ground

A police marksman who shot Cherry Groce was on the brink of tears as he told an inquest how he saw her sink to the floor. Inspector Douglas Lovelock had to pause several times as he recounted the raid:

The door crashed, which was enormous, and I shouted 'armed police'.

I was up into the hallway and the door was ajar about eight inches. I kicked it and went in. We had already unholstered our revolvers and I went in in a crouch position and almost immediately there was this figure upon me.

I've had 30 years to think about this and the stress I was under.

My finger must have been pulling back on that trigger the whole time I was going up and through.

I saw the flash and the next thing is Mrs Groce is on the ground. I dropped down to her eyes thinking 'I hope to Christ it is shock and I have missed'

– Inspector Douglas Lovelock
  1. Rags Martel: ITV London reporter

Cherry Groce: I asked a police officer if I was going to die

The witness statement continued:

Immediately after he shot me he said 'Where is Michael Groce [Cherry Groce's is son]?' I was lying on the floor on my right hand side.

A police officer was still pointing a gun at me. I said 'I can't breathe'. I remember that I started choking.

I asked a police officer if I was going to die. He said: 'No. It's just like having a baby.' I waited for what seemed a long time for an ambulance to arrive.

– Cherry Groce witness statement

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  1. Rags Martel: ITV London reporter

Cherry Groce: The next thing I heard was a shot fired

A witness statement from Cherry Groce was read at her inquest today. It was given to police in October 1985, a few days after she was shot by a police officer at her home in Brixton.

Credit: PA

The statement read: "I was in my bed when I heard a rushing noise outside my bedroom door. The door was then pushed open. I was pushed back by police officers. I saw a man holding a small gun. He was aiming the gun at me. He didn't say anything. The next thing I heard was a shot fired."

Shooting victim's son recalls her 'struggling for breath'

A son of the woman whose shooting by the police sparked the 1985 Brixton riots recalled seeing her struggling for breath as she lay bleeding on the bedroom floor. Lee Lawrence told the inquest into her death that he remembered screaming hysterically when police burst in and shot her.

I heard another bang which is when I jumped up and opened my eyes and saw a police officer holding a gun in his hand and my mum was on the floor. He was holding a gun to her neck. He was shouting 'where's Michael Groce, where's Michael Groce?'

I was screaming and shouting 'what have you done to my mum'. I just heard her saying she could not feel her legs, that she could not breathe and that she was going to die.

– Lee Lawrence
  1. National

'Deficiencies' in police raid on Cherry Groce home

The armed raid on the home of Cherry Groce in 1985 had "serious deficiencies", the inquest into her death has been told.

This was among the conclusions of Assistant Chief Constable West Yorkshire police John Domaille, who produced a 357-page report on the incident.

In summing up the conclusions made in the Domaille report, Dexter Dias QC for the Groce family said:

He reached the conclusion that the most prudent course of action in this case would have been for the operation not to have proceeded forthwith but instead for an intelligence-gathering exercise to take place and that to go ahead as planned with a surprise entry with such lack of information about the layout of the premises and details of the occupants and bearing in mind that the light was on downstairs, he found, would create an adverse risk.

– Dexter Dias QC
  1. National

Background: Cherry Groce inquest

An inquest into the death of Cherry Groce, whose shooting by police sparked the Brixton riots, is due to begin today.

Cherry Groce, who was shot by police in 1985, died in 2011. Credit: PA
  • Cherry Groce was paralysed below the waist when she was accidentally shot by police at her home in 1985.
  • Officers were seeking her son, Michael, during an early morning raid.
  • Cherry Groce died in April 2011, having spent 26 years in a wheelchair.
  • Ministers overturned a decision to block legal aid for lawyers to represent Mrs Groce's family at the inquest after a petition attracted 130,000 signatures.
  • The Legal Aid Agency initially denied funding but referred the case to ministers following a campaign by her relatives and Labour MP Chuka Umunna.
  • The inquest into Mrs Groce's death comes after documents obtained by Channel 4 News revealed that a pathologist for the family and a pathologist for the police both concluded there is a causal link between the shooting and her death.

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Son searches for answers 29 years after mum was shot

An inquest into the death of a mother whose shooting sparked the 1985 Brixton riots is due to take place today. Cherry Groce was paralysed below the waist when she was accidentally shot by police looking for her son, Michael, during an early morning raid on her home.

Mrs Groce's son Lee Lawrence, who was 11 years old when he saw his mother shot, said:

We have fought long and hard to be heard and get answers. It is thanks to each and every one who signed the petition to grant our family legal aid that we will be properly represented in court.

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