In the residential gardens of Kirkstall, Streatham Hill, locals are still asking who Chris Kaba is and why the 24-year-old unarmed black rapper was shot by a police sniper through a car windscreen outside their home nearly three weeks ago.
Unfortunately, amid a troubling lack of official information, they are not the only ones in the capital demanding answers to the same pressing question.
Mr Kaba’s distraught family learned a little more on Wednesday when they viewed body worn footage captured by officers in two police cars who chased and surrounded his Audi Q8 late on the night of September 5.
They also met in private with new Scotland Yard Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley for 25 minutes after viewing the footage. Today the Evening Standard investigates the events leading up to the shooting in a bid to shed new light on London’s gripping story.
Mr Kaba was shot in the head, suffering catastrophic injuries, on the narrow street in south London. The Metropolitan Police officer involved has been suspended and the Independent Office for Police Conduct has launched a homicide investigation.
But Mr Kaba’s cousin, Jefferson Bosela, thinks most people have already made up their minds due to a lack of information. Labor MP for Streatham, Bell Ribeiro-Addy, told The Standard the immediate impact on young people in her constituency was a deep belief that Mr Kaba had been “executed”.
His killing echoed the fatal police shooting of 29-year-old Mark Duggan a decade ago at Tottenham which sparked riots across Britain. An inquest jury later found that he had been lawfully killed. On social media, supporters are passionately pleading Mr. Kaba’s case with the hashtag #JusticeForChrisKaba, as Mr. Bosela, 27, a former English teacher and year headmaster, pleads: “He mattered to us”.
Ms Ribeiro-Addy, below, also says the car was not registered in Mr Kaba’s name and she wonders if the police even knew he was the driver. Last weekend, rallies took place outside New Scotland Yard, the Met’s headquarters, and other protests took place in Brighton, Manchester and Cardiff.
Mourners have heard that Mr Kaba’s pregnant fiancée, Karimah Waite, was so distressed she could barely get out of bed.
Star Wars actor John Boyega, 30, highlighted the case on New York’s Hot 97 radio station while discussing institutional racism. Rapper Vossi Bop Stormzy, 29, offered his support to Mr Kaba’s family at a time when the Queen’s death has overtaken that of the musician in the news.
The Standard has learned that two years before his murder on August 11, 2020, Mr Kaba, then 22, was arrested just four miles from Cranbrook Road, Thornton Heath on suspicion of failing to stop a Vauxhall Astra on order from a uniformed police officer. Bromley Magistrates’ Court heard the officer ‘had reason to believe it was being used in a way likely to cause alarm, distress and/or annoyance to members of the public’.
During a search, the police found a lock knife. Two days later, Mr Kaba pleaded guilty to having a bladed item in a public place and driving without insurance. The non-arrest charge was dropped.
He was remanded in custody and remanded to Croydon Crown Court for sentencing, with the offenses having been committed while he was on licence. On October 21, Mr Kaba was sentenced to a further five months in detention, six penalty points on his license and to pay a victim surcharge of £120.
At the time, Mr. Kaba had just been released from a four-year sentence in a young offenders’ institution for possession of a firearm with intent to fear violence. The sentencing dates from an incident in Butchers Road, Canning Town, at 3.25am on December 30, 2017.
According to the police, shots were fired but no one was injured. Following his extended sentence, Mr. Kaba was released about a year ago. Habib Kadiri, of the StopWatch campaign group, explained why Mr Kaba may not have followed the instructions of a firearms officer on that fateful night.
He said: ‘In our conversations with people subjected to stop and search, we often find that the inherently aggressive tactics of the officers involved crowd out any notion of so-called ‘rational behaviour’. The nature of street policing induces panic.
A lot of people we spoke to feel like the police engineer is meeting them to catch them. On April 13 this year, the released Mr Kaba received a 28-day domestic violence protection order from the police in respect of Ms Waite, the mother of his unborn daughter. The notice granted at Westminster Magistrates’ Court prohibited him from contacting her on social media or entering her street in Battersea.
He added that the order prohibits “the alleged perpetrator from using or threatening violence against Karimah Waite or from harassing, encouraging or directing any other person to do so.” However, Ms Waite’s mother, Kim Alleyne, 49, said her future son-in-law had completed an apprenticeship to become an architect, adding earlier this month: ‘He was so loved. He was so funny. He was super nice. If it was a white boy, he would have had a chance to get out of the car.
Mr Bosela, who left his job to take on the role of spokesman for the family, said: “It is clear that in this case his moral compass does not matter. And even though I believe he’s amazing and a good person, even if he wasn’t, it doesn’t matter because they didn’t know Chris was in that car unless it was a targeted operation.
“Because of the lack of information at the start, people have already come to their own conclusions,” Ms Ribeiro-Addy acknowledged.
“I fear that whatever the outcome of the investigation, people have already made up their minds about what happened. We have heard many young people talking about an execution because of the way he was shot. It really is dangerous language.
“For a lot of them it’s really, ‘It’s happened again. It’s still happening to us’. They believe nothing changes. In Lambeth we have the lowest [police] trust across the city.
By the evening of September 5, Mr Kaba had left the home of his mother, Helen Lumuanganu, also known as Nkama, in Peckham but it is unclear where he was going. While driving the Audi, he activated an automatic license plate recognition camera which alerted police to a link to a firearms incident in the previous days.
The car was brought to a ‘sudden stop’ after a chase by two armed response vehicles carrying firearms officers, who locked it in.
Just before 10 p.m., residents of Kirkstall Gardens heard a single gunshot. An anonymous witness later told The Standard: “Armed police jumped up and shouted at the man, ‘Get out of the car.’ It was at least a dozen times. The guy in the car had plenty of chances to stop but he refused. He then started driving towards a police car and crashed into it, then reversed, he just didn’t stop the vehicle.
The resident claimed that Mr. Kaba “could have killed one of the police officers with his car”.
The Metropolitan Police Federation, representing every constable, sergeant, inspector and chief inspector, confirmed they would support their “brave” firearms colleague as others threatened to surrender their weapons. Chairman Ken Marsh said he had “no problem” with the investigation into the shooting.
The prospect of a possible criminal charge against the officer who fired the fatal shot will likely depend on whether the Crown decides he acted in self-defense in response to a realistic threat to his life or that of another officer.
Mr. Kaba was the eldest of three brothers raised by observant parents Prosper Kaba and Ms. Lumuanganu from the Democratic Republic of Congo. He lived in Wembley. Known as Rue Madix, he was a member of 67, a Brixton Hill-based drill rap group. Her mother said after viewing the police video footage that she remained determined to get “justice”.
The IOPC Fund said its investigation could take six to nine months as a “significant amount of evidence” is being reviewed. A spokesperson added: “We sympathize with the family of Chris Kaba and fully appreciate that they have many questions. We understand that people want answers quickly. However, this is a complex investigation and we must let our investigation take its course as we establish all the facts.
Daniel Machover, the lawyer for Mr Kaba’s family, said: “It is vital to a safe and just society that the police are fully accountable to the law whenever they use lethal force.
“That remains true regardless of what anyone involved may or may not have done in the past. Speculation in these circumstances is a distraction from what should be the priority, which is to establish precisely how and why Chris has been shot.
The Met said it was unable to comment due to the IOPC Fund investigation.
An inquest into Mr Kaba’s death will open at South London Coroner’s Court on October 4.