Socialist Worker

Exclusive: witnesses speak out on how Darren Cumberbatch died

by David Kersey
Issue No. 2565

On the march for justice

On the march for justice (Pic: Geoff Dexter)

Darren Cumberbatch was beaten, tasered and sprayed with CS gas by police before he died, speakers have told a rally. And other witnesses to the events have given their accounts to Socialist Worker.

Darren came into contact with police in the early hours of 10 July at McIntyre House in Nuneaton, Coventry. He was taken to hospital and died on 19 July.

The cause of Darren’s death has not been confirmed and the cops’ pet watchdog, the IPCC, is investigating.

More than 350 people joined a march demanding justice for Darren in Nuneaton yesterday, Saturday, before rallying outside the police headquarters.

Campaigner Charlie Williams told the rally, “I have seen the photos of Darren. He was battered by the police.

"He has injuries from head to toe. Black eyes. Bruises all over his body. Burn marks all over his body. This is no exaggeration, this is facts.”

Luke, a McIntyre House resident who witnessed the police treatment of Darren, also spoke to the rally. “Something kicked off around 2 ‘o’ clock in the morning,” he said. “I heard him screaming, I heard him shouting.

“The police were there. He was screaming for help. He was asking, ‘What have I done?’ I heard no reply.

“I heard tasers – no warning of tasers. I heard CS gas – no warning of CS gas. I hope justice is found.

“That night there was something going on that shouldn’t have been going on by police.”

For a video of the speeches at the rally go here

Now a number of men staying at McIntyre House have told Socialist Worker that Darren shouted for help from a toilet cubicle as police stood outside.

One said, “They wouldn’t let us past the toilets for about an hour and a half, two hours. They were saying we could be recalled back to prison, [and told us] to go back to our rooms.

“We heard him shouting for help and we couldn’t do anything about it.”

Another added, “[It sounded like] they were tasering him. We could hear it, it was horrible.”

Darren’s death came within weeks of the deaths of Edson Da Costa in Newham, east London, and Rashan Charles in Hackney, east London. All have generated furious protests and a determination to make sure the cops are held to account.

As one McIntyre House resident put it, “The police cannot keep getting away with everything they’re doing. They think they’re better than us just because they’ve got that uniform on.”

The BBC reports that Assistant Chief Constable Richard Moore has said, "The independent IPCC investigation is looking at the circumstances, including the use of force, and we are co-operating fully.

"It would not be appropriate for us to comment until the outcome of that investigation is known."

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