Socialist Worker

Police account unravels as IPCC confirms Rashan Charles did not swallow drugs

by Sadie Robinson
Issue No. 2566

Demanding justice for Rashan Charles

Demanding justice for Rashan Charles (Pic: Guy Smallman)


The cops’ pet watchdog, the IPCC, confirmed yesterday, Wednesday, that Rashan Charles did not swallow drugs before he died.

Rashan died after being wrestled to the ground in a shop by a police officer in Hackney, east London, on 22 July, sparking angry protests.

Soon after Rashan’s death Scotland Yard said a police officer had “sought to prevent the man from harming himself”. The implication was that the officer was trying to retrieve drugs that Rashan had swallowed. That lie has now fallen apart.

The IPCC said that an item removed from Rashan’s airways was not a “controlled substance”. Yet the mainstream media are still following the police version of events.

So the BBC said Rashan “became ill after putting an object in his mouth”. It said footage of the incident showed that Rashan “appeared to put his hand to his mouth”.

It did not say that Rashan “became ill” after a police officer put him a choke hold.

Yet an east London health worker has now told Socialist Worker that police told paramedics that Rashan had died of a heart attack after swallowing cocaine.

The health worker, who joined a protest two days after Rashan’s death, told Socialist Worker, “I bumped into a paramedic I knew there. I asked why he wasn’t joining the protest. He told me, ‘It’s all about drugs’.

Flowers outside a shop in Hackney, east London

Flowers outside a shop in Hackney, east London (Pic: Dave Gilchrist)


Police

“He said the first response officers, the paramedics who arrived at the scene, were told by police that Rashan had died of a heart attack because he’d swallowed cocaine.

“They hadn’t done a post mortem or anything, so how would you possibly know that?”

The health worker said, “I know what it’s like. If you work in A&E or the paramedic service, you just get fed this stuff by the police. They give you the story and get it going.

“The police make up their narrative straight away and clearly they did in this case. It’s appalling.

“And some health professionals then repeat it as if it’s knowledge. But it’s not knowledge—it’s absolute nonsense.”

Local anti-racist campaigner Egg told Socialist Worker, “They murdered him and still they haven’t suspended any officer. It’s absolutely outrageous.

“The police are out and out liars, every single one of them. They will try and cover this up.

“They said he had swallowed drugs but they haven’t found anything on him. Even if he did have drugs, is that a reason for the police to kill someone?”

The police used a similar narrative to explain the death of Edson Da Costa, who died after being stopped by police in Newham, east London, in June. It’s right that there have been protests to demand truth and justice over these deaths, and that of Darren Cumberbatch in Nuneaton, Coventry.

New figures show that Metropolitan Police officers use force every ten minutes—and that they disproportionately target black people. Some 36 percent of incidents affected black people, who make up just 13 percent of London’s population.

More protests can keep the pressure on the cops.

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