Former British soldier Sean Fitzgerald, 31, was shot and killed by police during a Jan. 4 raid in Coventry, located in the United Kingdom. Police believe Fitzgerald and others were illegally growing cannabis on the compound.
The incident has spurred widespread criticism an independent investigation of the police officers’ actions. Initial local reports from eyewitnesses suggest that the man was shot in the back. But according to The Independent Office of Police Conduct (IOPC), there is “no indication” that he was shot in the back. The IOPC also confirmed that the raid was a pre-planned operation after receiving an open inquiry.
A groundworker named Cory Brown saw the events unfold. “From what we can gather, they have ran away out of the house because the police raided it,” Brown told The Telegraph. “The police climbed up ladders and went through windows, almost like it was World War Three. Obviously any person in their right mind would’ve been scared and ran away.”
“They’ve ran and Sean has been shot in the back by an officer,” he added.
Last November, the British government gave the green light to allow doctors to prescribe medical cannabis. But the country is plagued with the some of the same problems as the United States, such as the prevalence of suspected unlicensed cannabis grow operations.
The United Kingdom sees far fewer police shootings than in the United States. For instance, in 2015, data suggests that there were 55 fatal police shootings in the United Kingdom in the last 24 years, while there were 59 fatal police shootings in the first 24 days of 2015.
The Fitzgerald family and others now mourn yet another victim in the “War on Drugs,” even though medical cannabis is now legal for approved patients in the United Kingdom. Investigators now hope to find CCTV footage to see what actually happened that day.