'Police knew there would be trouble. Now Ronnie is dead'
Family of man gunned down at a gang member's funeral accuse Metropolitan Police of 'failing after failing'
Monday 17 September 2012
The family of a man shot dead at the funeral of a reputed young gang member has accused Scotland Yard of a series of failings after learning that police had been warned about a potentially violent turf dispute.
Azezur Khan, 21, known to family and friends as Ronnie, was shot dead while attending the funeral, despite the Metropolitan Police receiving intelligence warnings of a potential armed clash between two feuding south London gangs. Officers did not attend, despite a request from the family of the man being buried.
Mr Khan was killed as he left the funeral of Joel Morgan, a friend from school days, on 3 November last year. Mr Morgan had died the previous month in a car crash.
Mr Morgan was a known member of the GAS Gang, based in Lambeth, which had a history of tensions with the neighbouring Peckham Young Guns. The GAS Gang has been blamed for a number of attacks.
Mr Morgan's mother, Carlene Brookes, had requested a police presence at the funeral because of concerns that her son's grave would be attacked, as the burial was taking place on the rival gang's patch.
A report by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) found that intelligence was not properly checked, warnings were not passed on and officers wrongly assumed that other colleagues were doing certain work. The failings meant that no plan was put in place to police the burial.
One officer had claimed that Mr Morgan's mother had not wanted any police presence at the funeral.
Mr Khan's family said yesterday that a police presence at the burial could have saved his life.
"It seems like there is failing after failing," said his brother Pinto, 29, at the family's south London home.
"Different departments were not passing on messages. It's not good enough. Someone needs to be held accountable for all the mistakes that have happened."
The IPCC said it was clear mistakes had been made but they did not amount to misconduct by any single officer. The force has agreed to arrange a meeting with the family after the watchdog said police should acknowledge the mistakes.
Mr Khan's friends told his family that he had become emotional as he stood graveside and left the main body of mourners to get a drink from a parade of shops, where he was killed. Detectives from Scotland Yard's specialist gun and gang crime unit have no information to suggest why he would have been targeted. A 17-year-old was also shot and wounded.
Two suspects were seen fleeing the scene. Seven people have been arrested in connection with the shooting and two teenagers remain on bail on suspicion of murdering Mr Khan. Nobody has been charged.
Mr Khan's father, Mohammed, 54, said his son had no connections with gangs but was a religious young man and respected mentor to children at their mosque. "We are all suffering, we are all in a nightmare," he said.
The IPCC report, seen by The Independent, said that Scotland Yard received intelligence of possible trouble between the two gangs several days before the funeral.
Mrs Brookes told officers from Surrey Police – who were investigating the car crash in which her son died – that she feared trouble.
An officer assigned to the case did not recognise the significance of the cemetery's location in East Dulwich. Initial intelligence reports indicated that there was a "low threat to life" from gang tensions. One officer said they did not plan any overt presence at the funeral because of "community tensions", the IPCC report said.
The IPCC Commissioner, Sarah Green said that while mistakes were made "it is not possible to conclude whether this tragedy could have been prevented".
Scotland Yard said that the IPCC had found no evidence of criminal behaviour or disciplinary matters.
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