Met Police officers shot robbery suspect in back while another bullet missed and 'hit flats'

Two Met Police officers have been cleared of gross misconduct after shooting a robbery suspect in the back in South West London. The officers, known as NX1 and MY55, were found to have no case to answer to allegations they breached police standards of professional behaviour after a three-week hearing that ended on Friday, May 3, over five years since the original incident.

Brooklyn MacFarlane, 23 at the time, was shot at by two officers from the Met's firearms command who mistakenly believed he was carrying a gun whilst intercepting a planned robbery in Haydons Road, South Wimbledon, on December 3, 2018. One shot struck McFarlane in the back, while another whizzed past and likely hit a block of flats.

The police watchdog investigated the shooting and handed a file to the Crown Prosecution Service who authorised a charge of GBH for NX1, and attempted GBH for MY55. But, both officers were acquitted in October 2021 when the CPS offered no evidence. The Crown said a re-review of video and expert evidence meant there was no longer a realistic prospect of conviction.

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Brooklyn McFarlane survived the shooting and was jailed for 13 years -Credit:MPS
Brooklyn McFarlane survived the shooting and was jailed for 13 years -Credit:MPS

MacFarlane - described by police as a 'ringleader' of the 'extremely violent' robbery gang - was discharged from hospital the day after the shooting. In November 2022, he was convicted of conspiracy to commit robbery, weapons offences, and handling stolen goods, and was jailed for 13 years.

Nine other men who used guns, knives, hammers and crowbars to terrorise security staff were also jailed, making the total sentence for the gang 141 years. A video released by the Metropolitan Police on Friday shows how the gang rushed into a supermarket and robbed a cash transit security staff member at gunpoint.

The shooting

The whole robbery gang was jailed for 141 years after a Flying Squad operation -Credit:MPS
The whole robbery gang was jailed for 141 years after a Flying Squad operation -Credit:MPS

The IOPC said Met officers were conducting a sting on an attempt to rob a cash-in-transit van parked on Haydons Road when officers saw McFarlane 'acting suspiciously' near the vehicle. When armed police tried to detain him on Haccombe Road, he ran off along Haydons Road.

The watchdog said he was pursued on foot by the armed cops, who both thought he was carrying a gun, and they each fired their weapon once. One bullet struck McFarlane's back; the other bullet missed, and 'most likely hit a nearby block of flats' with people inside, the watchdog found.

McFarlane continued running but was arrested on Lacock Close where he was given first aid and then taken to hospital for bullet removal. The watchdog then went about gathering witness statements, CCTV, ballistic, and expert evidence.

While the officers were cleared of wrongdoing, MyLondon understands the police watchdog did not share NX1's view that there was an immediate threat to his life as McFarlane had been running away at the time.

The IOPC also questioned if it was appropriate for MY55 to shoot at McFarlane from the other side of the road, while there were members of the public, moving traffic, and other police officers nearby. The building the second bullet likely hit also had people inside at the time.

'Officers taking on a ruthless gang of armed robbers'

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley pictured in his uniform
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley -Credit:PA Archive/PA Images

On Friday Independent Office of Police Conduct regional director Mel Palmer the IOPC respected the panel's decision to clear the officers of misconduct, and added that they appreciated the impact of delays in bringing about a decision for the officers involved.

But Met Police Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley went further and questioned the length of time it took to clear the officers - who volunteer for the role. He also shared his sympathy for the 'untold strain' on their lives and their families waiting for a ruling.

“Why is it the case that if an armed officer discharges their weapon during a terrorist incident the system can clear them within months, but officers taking on a ruthless gang of armed robbers face a five-year ordeal? That isn’t right," said Sir Mark.

“Like the majority in policing, they don’t shy away from accountability. They know they’re given significant powers, including the ability to use potentially lethal force against people.

"Any use of those powers needs to be open to scrutiny. But the systems that deliver that scrutiny must be fair, efficient and competent and as it stands, they fail those tests too often."

Sir Mark added that a recent Home Office Accountability Review 'didn't go far enough' to restore the trust of officers, and that the case shows 'genuine reform is needed'.

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