Notable incidents alleging the use of the shoot-to-kill policy include Loughgall, Gibraltar and Strabane. The SAS killed a total of fourteen Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) and Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) members at these locations.
Other high-profile incidents involving alleged shoot-to-kill incidents occurred in Belfast, Derry, East Tyrone and South Armagh. The killing of Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) member Brian Robinson by undercover army officers is notable for being the most prominent of the very few alleged 'shoot to kill' incidents where the victim was a loyalist.
The shootings were initially investigated by other members of the RUC, and the Director of Public Prosecutions for Northern Ireland decided to bring prosecutions. At the first trial, relating to the shootings of the two INLA men, Constable John Robinson admitted to having been instructed to lie in his statements, and that other witnesses had similarly altered their stories to provide justification for opening fire on Grew and Carroll. When Robinson was found not guilty, the resulting public outcry caused RUC Chief Constable John Hermon to ask John Stalker to investigate the killings.
On 5 June 1986, just before Stalker was to make his final report, he was removed from his position in charge of the inquiry. On 30 June, he was suspended from duty over allegations of association with criminals. On 22 August, he was cleared of the allegations and returned to duty, although he was not reinstated as head of the inquiry. The inquiry was taken over by Colin Sampson of the West Yorkshire Police, its findings were never made public.
In the book Stalker, published by Mr Stalker in 1988, the following descriptions of his investigation into the three shooting incidents appeared, concerning the McKerr, Toman and Burns shooting:-
Concerning the three incidents as a whole, Stalker wrote:-
According to The Times of 9 February 1988, Mr Stalker stated that although he never found written evidence of a shoot-to-kill policy, there was a "clear understanding" that officers were expected to enforce it.
In 1990 the RUC issued a response to the book by Mr Stalker. It stated in its introduction that the book contained many inaccuracies and distortions and gave a misleading impression. Their document aimed to highlight a selected number of misrepresentations. It was stated, in contradiction to Mr Stalker’s assertions, that it was wrong to allege that the three investigations were carried out under different detectives as the same detective superintendent was in charge of two of the investigations; that the investigation files were presented to the DPP in the format approved by him; that it was already established in a police statement of 13 November 1982 that no police officer had been struck by the car driven by Gervaise McKerr; that it had been advisable, for the safety of the three officers, that they leave the scene immediately; that their weapons had been seized without delay by the scene of crimes officers; that no incorrect information was given to the investigating officers concerning where the shooting occurred, although uniformed officers had mistakenly positioned the tape on the junction and it was repositioned accurately shortly afterwards; it was accepted that all the cartridges were not recovered but due to the torrential rain at the time some could have been washed down the drains; the area had nonetheless been swept over for two days with metal detectors.
Criticisms were also made that Mr Stalker had gone outside his remit to reinvestigate the shooting incidents as well as a terrorist incident on 27 October 1982 in which three police officers had been killed and that his report, when submitted, lacked the clarity and precision normally associated with criminal investigations.
The Government also submitted that on 23 June 1992 Mr Thorburn, on the occasion of his withdrawal of a libel action against the RUC Chief Constable, made a statement in which he took the opportunity to submit publicly that he was satisfied that the RUC had not pursued a shoot- to-kill policy in 1982 and that the RUC Chief Constable had not condoned or authorised any deliberate or reckless killings by his officers. Other members of the Stalker/Sampson inquiry team also stated in June 1990 that "the Greater Manchester officers wish to stress that the Stalker/Sampson Enquiry found no evidence of a 'Shoot to Kill policy'".
In the judgement the court ruled that eight armed IRA men shot dead by soldiers of an undercover SAS unit at Loughgall, County Armagh, in 1987, and two IRA men killed by RUC officers, had their human rights violated. It said this had arisen because of the failure of the state authorities to conduct a proper investigation into the circumstances of the deaths. A similar finding was brought in the case of Sinn Féin member Patrick Shanaghan, who was killed by loyalist paramilitaries. The findings were brought under Article Two of the European Convention on Human Rights.
A number of television programmes were produced about or in reaction to specific incidents in particular or the shoot-to-kill issue in general: