TWO men arrested for drugs charges after Sean Fitzgerald, 31, was shot dead by police in an armed operation in Coventry have been released.
A fleet of police vehicles descended on Burnaby Road near the Holbrooks area of the city on Friday night (January 4).
West Midlands Police denied rumours Mr Fitzgerald was shot in the back during the intelligence-led operation.
The incident has been referred to the Independent Office of Police Conduct (IOPC) who immediately began an investigation.
Friends and family have paid tribute to Mr Fitzgerald and floral arrangements in his memory have been left near the scene of his death.
A neighbour claimed they heard ‘four or five’ gunshots after around 17 police cars surrounded the address, national reports say.
The latest statement from West Midlands Police yesterday said: “West Midlands Police is continuing to assist an Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) investigation into an armed operation in Coventry.
“A 31-year-old man was shot dead by firearms police during the intelligence-led operation in Burnaby Road at around 6.20pm on Friday.
“This is being investigated by the IOPC who have said based on the evidence received so far, including body worn footage – and contrary to reports – there is no indication the man was shot in the back.
“Police have bailed a 26-year-old man arrested on suspicion of being concerned in the production of cannabis and released another man, also 26, under investigation as enquiries continue.”
Mr Fitzgerald’s cousin said on Facebook: “Absolutely gutted thinking of my family right now.
“RIP to my cousin little Sean Fitzgerald your flying high with everyone right now.”
West Midlands Police assistant chief constable Sue Southern said the operation had been part of a long-running criminal investigation.
An IOPC spokesperson said: “31-year-old Sean Fitzgerald, from Coventry, was shot during a pre-planned police operation at a property on Burnaby Road at around 6.20pm. His next of kin has been informed. The post mortem will be held on Monday, January 7.
“After being notified by West Midlands Police, our investigators were sent to the scene to gather evidence and oversee forensic examinations.
“We also attended the post incident procedures for officers to provide their initial accounts.”
IOPC regional director Amanda Rowe: “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.”