Socialist Worker

'The only chance the dead have to speak'

Issue No. 1763

Outrage at police attack on Injustice film

'The only chance the dead have to speak'

WHY ARE the police so afraid of the film Injustice?

The hard-hitting documentary looks in depth at the deaths in police custody of Brian Douglas, Ibrahima Sey and Shiji Lapite.

The film is "the one and only chance the dead have to speak", as one of the victims' relatives put it.

Yet police officers involved in their deaths have issued threats of legal action to venues scheduled to show the film. Officers have even turned up at screenings and banged on the doors to stop Injustice being shown.

The police threats have ensured the film was not screened in two venues in London and in Manchester. But they have not followed through with any legal action.

Ken Fero of Migrant Media spent six years gathering information to make the film. Injustice highlights the case of David Oluwale, who died while he was in police custody in Leeds in 1969.

His case is the only one that has led to officers being prosecuted, convicted and made to serve prison sentences. The film also looks at the deaths of Joy Gardner, Wayne Douglas, Roger Sylvester and Christopher Alder.

Some of these family members and supporters barricaded themselves into Conway Hall in London last month to force Injustice to be shown.

Nothing has changed since the Macpherson report damned the police as institutionally racist after the death of black teenager Stephen Lawrence. Victims' families still have to fight for justice.

  • For more information on screenings of Injustice around the country phone 0207 254 9701.

Oluwashiji Lapite

Terrible screams

TWO OFFICERS from the notorious Stoke Newington police station followed Oluwashiji "Shiji" Lapite down Knightland Road in Clapton, east London, on 16 December 1994. Shiji was a Nigerian father of two. He was out getting a takeaway meal. The two police officers claimed he was "acting suspiciously".

Shiji died in the back of the police van. His aunt Ola Slalmi said at the time, "I have seen my nephew's body. His head has been smashed and his neck has been smashed. There are bruises all over his body."

One police officer said that he grabbed Shiji around the throat. The other admitted he kicked Shiji in the head as hard as he could.

A witness revealed that they heard "terrible screams", and said that Shiji's head was lolling around as he was carried into the police van.

Shiji suffered 45 separate injuries, including crushed cartilage around the larynx in his throat where he was punched, kicked and pulled. The inquest jury took just half an hour to reach the verdict-Shiji was unlawfully killed.

The two officers involved have never been disciplined. The Crown Prosecution Service decided not to consider a prosecution for manslaughter.


Ibrahima Sey

Handcuffs and CS gas

"IBRAHIMA WOULDN'T want what happened to him to happen to anyone else. He would want the police charged with murder or manslaughter."

That was the plea from one of Ibrahima Sey's family members. Ibrahima was a Gambian asylum seeker living in east London. He died on Saturday 16 March 1996 at Ilford police station.

His wife, Amie Sey, called the police after she became concerned about his unusual behaviour.

She hoped that he would get help for his mental illness. Ibrahima went peacefully to the police station with his friend, Pa Ebou Nbimdalan.

But the officers refused to allow Ibrahima's friend to accompany them any further. While Ibrahima was protesting up to eight officers pounced on him. One officer grabbed him round the neck, another grabbed him round the legs and another round the arms.

Ibrahima was forced to the ground. While he lay on his stomach the police handcuffed his hands behind his back.

Officers said that they tried twice to get Ibrahima back on his feet, but his legs seemed to "buckle and give way". One of the officers used CS spray on him while he remained on his stomach with his hands handcuffed behind his back.

The spray was directed at his face, and covered his mouth and nose. Officers later claimed he enjoyed the spray. Once the police raised him to his feet he was walked backwards into the police station.

He then doubled over, collapsed and was left face down for four hours. When an ambulance arrived they found Ibrahima's body still face down and handcuffed behind his back. He was dead.

The inquest into his death found that Ibrahima was unlawfully killed. No disciplinary action or prosecution of any of the officers has taken place.


Show goes on

THREE HUNDRED people turned out on Thursday of last week to watch a screening of Injustice in Tottenham, north London, at just two days notice.

Around 200 people attended a screening of Injustice in Liverpool last Saturday. This was despite the local police preventing the film being shown at its original venue.


Brian Douglas

Deadly baton

"I JUST want peace and justice," pleads Mrs Douglas. Her son was Brian Douglas, a 33 year old black man from south London. Brian was a music and boxing promoter.

He was the first victim to die in this country from the police using the new US-style long handled baton.

He was killed while on a night out with his friend Stafford Soloman on 3 May 1995.

Brian and his friend were stopped by police at St Luke's Avenue in Clapham, south London.

During the inquest the two officers admitted hitting Brian three times with the US-style baton, but deny hitting him on the head. Brian suffered a fractured skull.

Donald Douglas, Brian's brother, reveals that "several witnesses saw Brian being hit on the head". One of the officers said, "The blow was on the shoulder and it slipped up."

Officers detained Brian at Kennington police station. He collapsed there and fell into a coma. The police held Brian at the police station for 15 hours before he was given any medical attention.

He was taken to St Thomas's Hospital and placed on a life support machine to keep him alive.

Five days later the life support machine was switched off, and Brian Douglas was pronounced dead from "massive" brain damage and seven skull fractures. Three pathologists agreed he had been hit over the back of the head.

The inquest verdict concluded "death by misadventure". Brian's family was denied access to his body for two months after his death. His sister, Brenda Weinberg, asks, "How many more victims? How many more people will die?"

No police officer has faced disciplinary action or prosecution for the death of Brian Douglas. The police continue to use the US-style batons.


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News
Sat 25 Aug 2001, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1763
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