Curtis (a.k.a Jason) Davis v Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis

JurisdictionEngland & Wales
JudgeMr Justice Nicol
Judgment Date15 January 2016
Neutral Citation[2016] EWHC 38 (QB)
Docket NumberCase No: HQ10X00297
CourtQueen's Bench Division
Date15 January 2016

[2016] EWHC 38 (QB)

IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE

QUEEN'S BENCH DIVISION

Royal Courts of Justice

Strand, London, WC2A 2LL

Before:

Mr Justice Nicol

Case No: HQ10X00297

Between
Curtis (a.k.a Jason) Davis
Claimant
and
Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis
Defendant

Heather Williams QC and Jude Bunting (instructed by Powell Spencer and Partners, solicitors) for the Claimant

John Beggs QC and Aaron Rathmell (instructed by Directorate of Legal Services, Metropolitan Police Service) for the Defendant

Hearing dates: 18 th, 19 th, 20 th, 23rd-27 th and 30 th November 2015

Mr Justice Nicol
1

On 27 th January 2009 the Metropolitan Police received intelligence that Curtis Davis, the Claimant, who lived in Kent or London, was assembling some 'muscle' in order to commit a robbery on domestic premises in Rugby, Warwickshire the following day.

2

Mr Davis was already known to the Trident unit of the Metropolitan Police. Formally known as SCD8 (Special Crime Directorate 8) this is a unit targeting gangs and gun crime in London. In February 2003 Mr Davis had been in a car in the King's Cross area of London with Carl Robinson 1 when they were stopped by a police officer. Mr Robinson was in possession of a 9mm self-loading automatic pistol which he gave to Mr Davis, who tucked it into the waistband of his trousers. Mr Davis at first appeared co-operative. He introduced himself to the police officers (though with a false name). The officer who searched Mr Robinson found that he had a lock knife tucked into the waist band of his trousers. Mr Davis had by then run off and waved the gun in the direction of the police officers who had stopped the car. He made for a block of flats where his girl friend lived. He had keys to the same block and his girl friend's flat, but dropped them as he ran. In an effort to gain admission, he fired 9 or 10 rounds at the front door of the block. When he was still unable to get in, he again ran off. Still waving the (now empty) gun he tried to commandeer a taxi unsuccessfully, but he did manage to push a motor scooter rider off his vehicle. He was chased and caught. He was prosecuted and pleaded guilty to using a firearm with intent to resist arrest and damaging property being reckless as to whether life was endangered. He was sentenced to 9 years imprisonment (reduced to 8 years by the Court of Appeal). He was released on licence in June 2008 at what would seem to be the 2/3 point of his sentence.

3

The Metropolitan Police did not believe that the Claimant's criminal activities then came to an end. In September 2008 an investigation was begun by Trident into him with the name 'Operation Dexirote'. Intelligence which was obtained in October 2008 included claims that Mr Davis was involved in trying to acquire firearms. Trident also believed that Mr Davis's association with Mr Robinson continued. That was significant because Mr Robinson was believed to be involved at a high level in serious offending.

4

In response to the intelligence about the intended robbery in Rugby, a firearms authorisation application was made on 28 th January 2009 by ZT12 2 on behalf of an Inspector from the North East Proactive Team of Trident. The plan was for Mr Davis to be kept under surveillance that day. The application was for the surveillance officers to be armed for their own protection and was made to Detective Superintendent Richardson who approved it. However, in addition to agreeing to the arming of the surveillance officers, Det. Sup. Richardson also authorised a team of Specialist Firearm Officers ('SFOs') to be available. These officers are part of the unit of the Metropolitan Police known as SC&O (Specialist Crime and Operations Unit) 19, although its previous title, CO19, is also still commonly used. The reason for this 'bolt-on', or additional provision, was as follows. There was no immediate

intelligence that Mr Davis or the team of robbers which he was believed to be assembling would be armed. However, the possibility that they would acquire a firearm before they left London could not be discounted. If that occurred, police policy was to arrest those responsible as soon as reasonably practicable. If such an arrest was necessary, it would not be carried out by the surveillance officers, but by the SFOs. Although the idea of including this bolt-on was not in the original application for firearms authorisation, it was a strategy which was endorsed by the on-call Senior Tactical Adviser, MM1
5

Det. Sup. Richardson assumed strategic responsibility for the operation. He was known as the 'Gold' Commander. 'Silver' Commander, the Detective Inspector on whose behalf ZT12 had made the firearms application, had tactical responsibility. He intended to travel in a separate car from the SFOs and the surveillance officers, but remain in their vicinity and keep in close contact with both. The team of SFOs comprised 10 men in four, unmarked, cars. The SFOs were under the immediate control of their team leader, Q9, who, as the operational commander, was also known as 'Bronze'. Q9 additionally acted as the tactical adviser for the operation.

6

Q9 gave the SFOs a short briefing at their Leman Street police station headquarters before they left, in the course of which he said he read out at least the part of the firearms authorisation application form which was headed 'Background to the Application'. They were then briefed, in rather more detail by Silver and a Trident Officer, ZT11, at Bexleyheath Police Station. In these briefings, the SFOs were told, erroneously, that in the course of the 2003 offences, Mr Davis had fired at police officers. Although Mr Davis had pointed the pistol at police officers and members of the public and had fired it at the door to the block of flats (reckless as to whether life was endangered), it was wrong to say that he had discharged the gun at the police.

7

Mr Davis's movements while driving his Mercedes were watched throughout the day by the surveillance officers in East, North, South East and North London and in Kent. The SFOs were in broadly the same areas, though they mainly waited at various police stations and other areas to see if they were needed.

8

The team of SFOs began their tour of duty that day at 7.00am. A normal shift would be between 8–10 hours. The initial team of surveillance officers was replaced by a fresh team at about 4.00pm. At about 7.00pm Q9 discussed with his Inspector (R19) whether the SFO team should carry on. In Q9's view the day had been long but not particularly strenuous thus far. Mr Davis and his associates were expected to head towards Rugby that evening. Once they left the Metropolitan Police District, responsibility would be handed over to another force. There was, in any case, no other team of SFOs available to relieve them. Q9 advised that his team should carry on and the Inspector approved that course.

9

By 10.15pm the Mercedes had met up with another group who were with a Volvo in Wood Green, North London. It seemed that the battery of the Volvo was flat because a pair of jump leads was produced from the Mercedes. With some difficulty the location of the battery for the Volvo was identified and an attempt was made to charge it. This was not sufficient and some men from the Mercedes push started the Volvo. The two cars then drove a short distance, stopped for a brief time and drove on. By this stage, the Mercedes was being driven by Anton Duncan. Mr Davis was in the front passenger seat. Christopher Roberts was on the back seat. Three other men were in the Volvo. These were Duschene Macleod (the driver), Nathaniel Da Souza Roper (front seat passenger) and Andre Clarke (back seat passenger).

10

Silver appears to have received intelligence at about 10.20pm that Mr Davis was now believed to be carrying a firearm. In accordance with the strategy that had been agreed at the beginning of the day, this changed the nature of the operation. The police would not wish a gun in the possession of a suspected criminal to be allowed to 'run' for any longer than reasonably necessary. Silver discussed with Q9 whether the suspects should be arrested while they were on foot. Q9 advised against this.

11

At 11.01pm the surveillance officers observed that one of the men appeared to be fiddling with something in the waistband of his trousers, as though there was something heavy there. Police experience is that criminals, who carry handguns, do not do so in a holster, but commonly tuck them into the waistband of their trousers. Silver and Q9 thought it had been the Claimant who was seen fiddling with his waistband.

12

This was wrong. The surveillance officer (LN140) who witnessed the 'fiddling with the waist band' has confirmed that the person who did this was not the Claimant. To the extent, therefore, that Silver and/or Q9 treated this as confirmation of the earlier intelligence that Mr Davis was now armed, that was a mistake.

13

Silver called 'state Amber' at about 11.50 when the two cars, the Mercedes and the Volvo, were again on the move. State Amber meant that the two cars were now to be stopped, not merely observed. Q9 passed this on to his team.

14

By midnight, the Mercedes and the Volvo were driving north along Green Lanes and were approaching the junction with the North Circular Road. If the cars were heading to Rugby, they would be likely to turn west on to the North Circular and then drive north on the M1. Q9 was keen that any arrest should take place before the cars joined the North Circular because that, and the M1 to which it led directly, were much faster roads where intervention would be far more difficult. Green Lanes at this point has two lanes in each...

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    • 7 Noviembre 2016
    ...in trying to make such an assessment can make a mistake: eg see Curtis (aka Jason) Davis v Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis [2016] EWHC 38) where the police officer, who was held to have acted lawfully, opened fire having mistaken a jump lead in the hand of the injured party for the......
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    • Coroners Court (NI)
    • 7 Noviembre 2016
    ...in trying to make such an assessment can make a mistake: eg see Curtis (aka Jason) Davis v Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis [2016] EWHC 38) where the police officer, who was held to have acted lawfully, opened fire having mistaken a jump lead in the hand of the injured party for the......
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