Gsoc interviews garda who fired fatal shots in killing of George Nkencho

Ombudsman to examine mental state of Mr Nkencho before his death

A watchdog's investigation into the fatal shooting of George Nkencho by a member of An Garda Síochána last year has entered its final stages.

Investigators from the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (Gsoc) have now taken accounts from all material witnesses, including the armed garda who fired the fatal shots when Mr Nkencho was killed outside his home on December 30th last.

It is understood that the garda was interviewed in mid-March, some 10 weeks after the shooting.

Having interviewed all material witnesses, including the two Armed Support Unit (ASU) members who were at the scene in Clonee, Gsoc investigators are now "evaluating" the evidence gathered to date, a source said.

However, the conclusion of the investigation may still be some way off. Sources said Gsoc officers may wish to reinterview some witnesses and may seek further statements from Mr Nkencho’s family.

It is understood that Gsoc also wishes to consider Mr Nkencho’s medical records from the period preceding his death. He had been suffering from mental illness at the time and his family had sought assistance from the Health Service Executive.

The two ASU members were among the last to give formal statements to Gsoc. Sources said it is typical for those at the centre of an investigation to be interviewed last so that a complete summary of evidence can be put to them.

Members of the Nkencho family and their supporters have expressed anger over the conduct of the investigation to date and have called for a public inquiry into the shooting.

Mr Nkencho's sister Gloria Nkencho previously said she did not have confidence in the investigation and that Gsoc was not keeping the family up to date with developments.

Demonstration

Supporters of the Nkencho family, including Youth Against Racism Ireland and members of the Socialist Party, staged a demonstration on Thursday outside Gsoc's office and handed in a letter demanding that issues of racism, classism and mental health be considered during the investigation.

They also demanded the officer who fired the fatal shots be suspended during the investigation. Typically, gardaí involved in fatal incidents remain on duty during Gsoc inquiries.

Socialist Party councillor for Mullhuddart/Blanchardstown John Burtchaell criticised the time it took to interview the ASU members and said that members of the local community had to give names of potential witnesses to Gsoc themselves.

A spokeswoman for Gsoc said it “would not be appropriate to give details of what particular witnesses have been spoken to or evidence gathered or particular lines of enquiry being followed at this point”.

He said during the investigation Gsoc had “actively encouraged” members of the public to come forward and that it continued to do so.

Mr Nkencho (27) was shot dead by the ASU outside his home shortly after he assaulted a shop worker. He was armed with a kitchen knife and a video appeared to show him lunging at gardaí. Five or six shots were fired, of which two entered the hallway of the house where Mr Nkencho’s sisters were standing.

Conor Gallagher

Conor Gallagher

Conor Gallagher is Crime Correspondent of The Irish Times