Wrong man pictured in social media posts about Met Police shooting of two dogs

18 May 2023
What was claimed

A photograph shows a clearer image of a police officer who attended an incident in Tower Hamlets in east London earlier on 7 May where two dogs were shot dead.

Our verdict

The man pictured facing the camera is not a police officer, does not work for the Metropolitan Police and was not involved in the incident in any way.

A number of posts on Facebook wrongly claim to have identified a Metropolitan Police officer who attended an incident in London on 7 May where two dogs were shot dead by police. These posts have been shared thousands of times

The posts, which have also appeared on Twitter, compare two images—on the left a blurry photo of a police officer holding a gun, and to the right a clearer portrait of a man. 

However these are not the same man. The Metropolitan Police has confirmed that the man facing the camera in the clearer photograph on the right-hand side of the post is not a police officer and had no involvement with the incident. 

Full Fact has also spoken to the wrongly-identified man, who told us that he has never worked for the police force, lives in Nottingham and has owned his own business for 13 years. The logo on his shirt in the social media posts clearly matches that seen on his website

The person featured in the image on the left-hand side of the post seems to be an armed police officer who appears in footage of the incident, but we don’t know any more details.

In reply to a tweet falsely identifying the man on the right of the image, a spokesperson for the Metropolitan Police said: “We understand the public concern following this incident. The person pictured is not a police officer and was not involved.

“An inquiry by @PoliceConduct inquiry is under way. We will update when we can.”

There has been significant attention given to the incident in Tower Hamlets earlier this month, with images and videos shared widely online. Police said they were called to reports of a woman being attacked by a dog, who suffered an injury to her leg but did not require hospital treatment.

The owner of the dogs was tasered by police during the incident, and was later charged with being the person/owner of a dog that was dangerously out of control (with injury) and being in possession/custody of a dog whilst disqualified from owning or keeping a dog. He pleaded not guilty to the first charge and guilty to the second during an appearance at Thames Magistrates' Court on 9 May. 

The Independent Office for Police Conduct is investigating the actions of the police involved.

False or misleading claims online have the potential to harm individuals, groups and democratic processes and institutions. Online claims can spread fast and far, and are difficult to contain and correct. 

Misleading images are some of the most common kinds of misinformation we see online, but they can sometimes be hard to spot. It’s always worth checking if a picture shows what the post says it does before you share it—we have written a guide on how to do so here.

Image courtesy of Richard Bell

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