Cherry Groce

Cherry Groce in hospital bedPolice shooting that sparked unrest

visit websiteFrom BBC & other sources
Published 30 March 2008

Updates on this case listed at the foot of this item

Days of civil unrest were brought about by the police shooting of an innocent mother, Cherry Groce. Her son Michael, wanted by London’s Metropolitan Police, was thought to have been hiding out at his mother’s home. Word of her motiveless shooting which resulted in her being permanently paralysed from the waist down, spread along Brixton’s then ‘frontline’ Railton Road.

The upshot of this saw days of running battles with the police, looting and burning in the streets.

One person died, some 50 people injured and police had made over 200 arrests. Riots also erupted that year on Tottenham’s Broadwater Farm housing estate, north London. The police officer who shot and paralysed the mother was eventually cleared of all criminal charges.

The shooting happened when Inspector Douglas Lovelock led a police raid on a house in Brixton in September 1985 looking for Michael Groce, a man they had been told could be armed. He was not at home, but in the confusion, his mother, Cherry Groce, was shot in the chest. She is now paralysed from the waist down.

Inspector Lovelock told a court it was a “terrible, terrible accident”, which he would regret for the rest of his life. After the innocent verdict, Inspector Lovelock’s solicitor Rod Fletcher read out a statement: “Inspector Lovelock wishes publicly to express his sincere personal regret for the injury caused to Mrs Groce in this tragic accident.”

Mrs Groce was represented by solicitor Paul Boateng, who said she would be “vigorously pursuing” a claim for compensation.

The Home Secretary, Douglas Hurd, ordered a special working party to be set up after the shooting of Mrs Groce. It was expected to lay down new guidelines for police using firearms.

But calls for special firearms units have been rejected by the police federation. Chairman Leslie Curtis said it was important officers were given rigorous training in the use of firearms. He added: “At the end of the day you have placed the gun in the hands of a human being – you will never eradicate the (occasional) mistake that occurs.”

Scotland Yard confirmed that Inspector Lovelock will be reinstated.


Follow-up News:

She was shot and paralysed by police. Her children are still seeking justice
July 2021

Official unveiling of the Cherry Groce Memorial
25 April 2021

Cherry Groce inquest finds police failures contributed to her death
10 July 2014

Met publicly apologises for shooting mother of six
21 March 2014

Funeral of Cherry Groce, woman shot before Brixton Riot
24 May 2011

Cherry Groce dies aged 63
30 April 2011

‘My mum got caught in the crossfire’
12 May 2004

1985: Riots in Brixton after police shooting

Policing the riots: from Bristol and Brixton to Tottenham, via Toxteth, Handsworth, etc
(no date available)

Inspired by Cherry Groce (Video)
(July 2012)

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