Tributes Paid To "Good Guy" Shot Dead In Coventry Police Raid
6 January 2019, 06:12 | Updated: 6 January 2019, 06:15
Tributes have been paid to a 31-year-old man fatally shot by police raiding a Coventry home during an "intelligence-led" operation.
Sean Fitzgerald, who lived locally, was killed and two others were arrested on suspicion of drugs offences after police stormed the address on Friday evening.
Police watchdog the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) launched an inquiry into the West Midlands Police officers.
On Saturday, an IOPC spokeswoman said investigators were yet to find a firearm at the scene in Burnaby Road, but the search continues.
One friend, who gave his name as Ali, told reporters he had been with the "very, very good guy" shortly before his death.
Ali said he believed his friend presented "no threat or danger", and added: "He's served for all of us - the police, everybody - in the Army up until last year."
Friend Jayson Moore added: "Sean was a completely thoughtful bloke. He spent his whole Christmas day building trampolines and playing with the kids. He did not deserve to die."
A family member wrote online that she was "absolutely gutted" by the death of Mr Fitzgerald, who another friend described as "one of a kind" who "would be there for anyone".
Police executed a warrant at the address in the largely residential street north of the city centre at about 6.20pm.
The IOPC were examining footage from cameras being worn by the officers involved as well as local CCTV.
Friends suggested Mr Fitzgerald was shot in the back, but police moved to deny this at an early stage in the investigation.
Asked at a press conference about the claims, Assistant Chief Constable Sue Southern said: "From the information I have at this point, that is not my understanding.
"Body-worn video has been examined and there will be a full forensic post-mortem, and the findings of that will form part of the independent IOPC investigation."
West Midlands Police said that the two 26-year-old men arrested at the scene were in custody on suspicion of involvement in the production of cannabis.
ACC Southern described the raid as an "intelligence-led operation" that followed a "long-running criminal investigation", but did not elaborate further.
Fire engineer Karl Lolley, a father-of-two who lives behind the police cordon, said he heard "four or five" gunshots after witnessing officers descend on the home.
"I saw three or four armed police cars turn up. Five to six armed officers got out and they went in the front door. There was some gunshots," the 39-year-old told the Press Association.
"The next thing you know there's more police arriving and they cordon off the area.
"They carry a person out on a stretcher, they put him in an ambulance - the lights on the ambulance were flashing for about half an hour as they were working on him.
"Then they turned the lights off and they drove off slowly. Obviously they pronounced him dead."
The IOPC confirmed it opened an inquiry after the force reported the fatality.
IOPC regional director Amanda Rowe said: "Our investigation is in its very early stages and we will be working hard to establish what happened. My thoughts are with the man's family and all of those affected by this incident.
"The next steps will be to view the body-worn video footage and establish if there are any local CCTV recordings. At this stage we are looking at the circumstances of the incident and all officers remain witnesses to our investigation."
The man's next-of-kin have been informed.