The shooting of Yassar Yaqub
One year on
At 6pm on Monday January 2, 2017, West Yorkshire Police closed the M62 exit slip road at Ainley Top following a serious incident.
Five hours later they announced police had shot a man dead.
Around 6pm this evening during a pre-planned policing operation near to the M62 in Huddersfield a police firearm was discharged and a man has died.
The slip roads east and west bound at junction 24 of the M62 remain closed.
An immediate referral has been made to the Independent Police Complaints Commission who are in attendance in West Yorkshire and West Yorkshire Police are fully co-operating with their investigation.
The following morning, Tuesday January 3, police said five arrests had been made and the incident was not terror related.
Meanwhile, the UK's media turned its eyes to Huddersfield.
At 11am the man was named by his family as 27-year-old dad of two Mohammed Yassar Yaqub, from Crosland Moor.
Later that day they issued a statement.
Mr Yaqub’s family are in shock, and are distraught. They would ask the media to respect their privacy at this difficult time
The family are fully aware that the incident that led to the death of Mr Yaqub is currently being investigated by the IPCC and they do not wish to make any further comment at this stage.
While police worked at the scene of the shooting, tributes to Yassar began to pour in.
So sad, my heart goes out to his parents
You were no angel but you were still one of the good guys and did not deserve this
Regardless of the circumstances and who did what, 2 children woke up today without a father, that reason alone is heartbreaking. My thoughts go out to the young children
That afternoon the Independent Police Complaints Commission revealed 'what appeared to be a non-police issue firearm' was found in the car.
Hours later, police closed roads in Bradford as people protested the shooting.
On Wednesday January 4, Yassar's father Mohammed and mother Safia joined other family members and friends at the spot where Yassar died. holding a vigil in his memory.
In the days following Yassar's death, stories about his lifestyle started to emerge.
In 2010 he was acquitted of attempted murder in a trial which saw him accused of trying to shoot two men in Birkby the year before.
Calling himself Badboy Stud, he had posted topless images and pictures of himself posing with expensive cars on dating site Plenty of Fish.
His profile revealed he was single. He described himself as having an ‘athletic body type’ and his personality type: ‘Adventurer’. He described his job as a ‘motor trader’ and stated that he was ‘very ambitious’.
National newspapers published details about the case, saying he was a known drug dealer and violent gangster.
According to the Daily Telegraph he was a “major drugs baron who laundered the profits from his drugs empire through his sale of high-performance cars after running an illegal smuggling ring.”
Am now aware of why Mohammed Yassar Yaqub was subject to the police operation & why they were totally justified to believe he had a gun.— Mark Williams-Thomas (@mwilliamsthomas) January 5, 2017
My source says : Mohammed Yassar Yaqub had held a gun to a females head in the days before the pre planned operation to arrest him.— Mark Williams-Thomas (@mwilliamsthomas) January 5, 2017
But Yassar's father hit back, saying he was a very good and loving son who was loved by many people in the community.
He said: "He was a very kind-hearted man who would do anything for anyone. If I had the chance I would have the same son.”
He said the only blemish on his son’s reputation was a conviction for a minor assault.
On Friday January 6, hundreds of people gathered to pay their respects to Yassar at his funeral.
His mother Safia wept as her son’s coffin was carried out of the Masjid Bilal mosque in Lockwood. Hundreds attended prayers before his body was laid to rest at the Hey Lane Cemetery in the shadow of Castle Hill.
The following Monday, 50 people staged a vigil at Ainley Top, which led to a protest march in the town centre, causing widespread traffic chaos.
Traffic was forced to stop as protesters, backed up by supporters in several cars, came to a standstill at junctions to chant ‘justice for Yassar’ and beep their car horns.
Up to 50 police officers were met by protesters, some with their faces covered. One, wearing a sinister white face mask, held a banner which read: “No sirens, no body cameras, no CCTV #justiceforyassar. Other banners said: “Black lives matter” and “Unlawful killing.”
A woman shouted at police: “You lot murdered my brother. We are here to find out why you did that.”
Yassar's brother-in-law, Isaa Akbar, said the turnout for the protest showed the amount of “love and respect” for him..
But a witness told the Examiner protesters jumped on the car bonnets of passing motorists and one man had his ignition keys snatched. "It was terrifying,” she said. “People don’t want this disruption and just
want to get on with their lives.
“They are alienating the people of Huddersfield with these protests. The police have to deal with it.”
Yassar's father Mohammed condemned reports of violence at the protest, saying: “I did not want any violence whatsoever, not in my son’s memory.
“I am not a violent person and never will be. Any protests should be peaceful. There is nothing to be gained by violence. Sometimes things get out of hand."
Hundreds of readers expressed their anger over the protests on the Examiner's Facebook page.
- “If peaceful, why the need for balaclavas or face masks?”
- “What a joke. They should have been arrested for putting people at risk and wasting police time.”
- “This is not a vigil, nor is it a peaceful protest. If you are so passionate about your friend, show your face.”
- “I have been involved in lots of marches and not once have we disrupted traffic in such a way, or been so intimidating, or felt the need to hide our identities.”
- “It was disgusting! It wasn’t peaceful. Myself and my daughter were stuck in the middle of this. Screaming and shouting through car windows, blocking roads, being aggressive and all hidden behind masks.”
In April Yassar's father said he feared he could die before the IPCC investigation came to a conclusion.
He said he had lost faith in the investigation and would no longer co-operate with the authority.
Meanwhile IPCC commissioner Derrick Campbell, who is leading the investigation, said no notices of misconduct had been served on any officer.
In the following months, family and friends protested against the police shooting. 100 family and friends marched through Huddersfield on April 29, and on Yassar's 29th birthday on May 18, 80 friends and family members held a vigil at his graveside.
In June Mr Yaqub met the IPCC, reinstating his co-operation after a 'constructive' get together.
In October, Yassar's parents went to 10 Downing Street with 150 supporters to deliver a letter to Prime Minister Theresa May.
In November he sent a list of 101 questions to the IPCC - whose response revealed the police officer who shot Yassar dead had not yet been interviewed.
On December 28 the authority said the results of its investigation would probably not be made public until the second half of 2018, following criminal proceedings linked to the same police operation.
What progress has been made?
• A handgun, ammunition and sound moderator, found in the vehicle in which Yassar was a passenger, has been forensically examined and tested
• Forensic examination of the vehicle and its contents, and ongoing work regarding the data from mobile phones recovered from the vehicle
• Confirmation that there is no body worn video, dash cam footage or CCTV footage of the incident
• CCTV capturing some of Yassar Yaqub’s movements in the hours before his death is currently under review
• Initial accounts and additional detailed accounts from officers at the scene have been collated and reviewed.
• Statements taken from witnesses travelling on the M62 at the time of the incident and those living nearby
Interview: Robert Sutcliffe
On the first anniversary of his death, Yassar's father Mohammed Yaqub says he is unable to come to terms with the loss of his beloved son.
And he knows neither he nor his wife Safia to whom he has been married for 35 years will ever be able to deal with its aftermath.
Mohammed, a father-of-four, spent several agonising hours on January 2, 2017, waiting for confirmation of his worst nightmare and today the pain of his loss is all too evident to see and feel at the family home in Rudding Street, Crosland
A naturally friendly and ebullient man with a quick wit and a ready sense of humour, he says his life has been turned upside down by that turbulent night.
And now the family home has been turned into a shrine to his only son with photographs in most of the rooms - one of them several feet high - apart from the prayer room where Muslim protocol dictates there should be no human features
The idea is that wherever he and his wife are in the house Yassar is always on view.
An inquiry into the incident is under way by the Independent Police Complaints Commission and is expected to report in March. But Mohammed says thanks to the amount of money and independent investigation he has put into finding out what happened to his son - including his own ballistics report - he doubts the official account by the IPCC will tell him anything new. His bitterness towards the authorities is all too evident and he says: "No amount of money will ever compensate me for what West Yorkshire Police has done. I have told them that they owe me my son. West Yorkshire Police can never compensate me for their debt. No money can compensate me, none whatsoever."
As for the vigil planned near the spot where the fatal shot was struck on January 2 and which as many as 200 people from all over the country are expected to attend, he says: "It's important to keep my son's name alive. I will do anything and everything for Yassar and this vigil will keep it alive."
He feels his and Safia's lives are a pale remnant of what they were before that evening of January 2. Their lives are now spent visiting their son's grave near Castle Hill almost every day and he says he will continue
to fight for justice and raise his son’s case at every opportunity to his dying breath.
As for the many negative comments about his son which appear on social media, many of them referring to his alleged drug dealing, he says: "I can justify every one of those comments now but I will do it for legal reason at a future date when the time is right.
He adds: "I am so proud of my three daughters. If it was not for them I would have nothing to live for. It's them and their mother who keep me going."