September 28th 1985 is a date etched in the minds of many. Dorothy ‘Cherry’ Groce, an innocent mother, was mercilessly gunned down by Inspector Douglas Lovelock, during an ill-fated raid on her home. The Metropolitan Police were in search of her eldest son, who did not live at the address, but more importantly, was no longer a wanted man.
The fatal bullet shattered her spine and meant that she lived the rest of her life as a paraplegic. Aged just 37, Cherry was in her prime.
The public outcry was relentless.
Anger spilled out onto the streets of South London and this incident acted as a catalyst to the infamous 1985 Brixton Riots. Buildings burned, cars were overturned and local businesses were looted.
For two consecutive days, there was carnage.
However in amongst the petrol bombs and burning flames, was a desperate, grief-stricken family forced to come to terms with a catastrophic event that occurred in their home as they slept in the safety of their beds.
The following months were a blur of emotional, painful hospital visits and intrusive media attention. No one knew what the future would hold or how to deal with it.
Life at Normandy Road, changed forever..
Cherry spent nine months in hospital whilst doctors tried desperately to minimalise the impact that the shooting had on her body. But to no avail, she was paralysed from the chest down and would never walk again. There were many more lengthy hospital stays and over the years, she suffered multiple ailments as a result of her injuries.
She was given a life expectancy of just 10 years. But due to her fighting spirit, and defying all medical opinion, she lived for 26.
On Easter Sunday 24th April 2011, Cherry died in hospital, surrounded by her family.
Her death and the ensuing pathologists report meant that the family were not able to grieve and come to terms with their loss because it was revealed that there was a ‘casual link’ between her untimely death and the shooting.
Due to these findings, an inquest took place at Southwark Coroners Court, to determine how an innocent mother sustained these injuries during this botched police raid. The jury decided it was a direct result of ‘multiple failings’ by the Met.
As a result of that verdict the Commissioner gave the family a long overdue public apology.
See our journey so far in more detail Here