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1985: Riots in Brixton after police shooting

VIDEO : Tensions in Brixton rises between police and the residents

Riots have broken out on the streets of south London after a woman was shot and seriously injured in a house search.

Armed officers raided a house in Brixton early this morning looking for a man in connection with a robbery.

Crowds began to gather outside the district's police station when news broke the police had accidentally shot the man's mother, Cherry Groce, in her bed with apparently no warning.

Local people had already been very critical of police tactics in Brixton and a mood of tension exploded into violence as night fell.

Dozens of officers dressed in riot gear were injured as they were attacked by groups of mainly black youths with bricks and wooden stakes.

'Tragic accident'

The rioters also set alight a barricade of cars across the Brixton Road with petrol bombs and some looted shops in nearby streets.

The suspected armed robber was not home when the police raided his address and Scotland Yard described the shooting of his mother as a "tragic accident".

One of Mrs Groce's daughters told the BBC everything happened very quickly.

"It was a loud noise that made me run down the stairs - by the time I got down there were three police dogs, police rushing everywhere and one of them had a gun," she said.

Mrs Groce is being treated at St Thomas' Hospital in central London and her family say the mother-of-six may never walk again.

"She is just in a state of shock - she cannot recall with any great accuracy because it all happened so fast," said her brother Tony Young.

A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police said it did all it could to prevent mistakes like this, but it had to recognise the increased use of firearms by criminals made errors more likely.

In Context
One person was killed, 50 injured and over 200 arrested during the riots which followed Cherry Groce's shooting.

Mrs Groce was crippled in the incident and was in hospital for two years.

The officer who shot her, Inspector Douglas Lovelock, was cleared of all criminal charges in January 1987 and was reinstated.

But a major review of Metropolitan Police gun policy after the incident led to a ban on CID detectives carrying firearms.

The new guidelines said only centrally controlled specialist squads - like Special Branch - would be armed.

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