Socialist Worker

Sheku Bayoh’s family sue police over his death

by Charlie Kimber
Issue No. 2603

Marching for justice in 2015

Marching for justice in 2015 (Pic: Duncan Brown)


The family of Sheku Bayoh, a 31-year-old man who died in Kirkcaldy minutes after being restrained by police, are suing Police Scotland for his unlawful killing.

It is a crucial battle for justice.

Almost three years to the day of the death on 3 May 2015, family solicitor and civil liberties lawyer Aamer Anwar said the family had been left without answers.

He criticised Police Scotland, the Crown Office and the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (Pirc).

Bayoh, a trainee gas engineer and father of two, died near his home in the town in Fife. A post-mortem identified 54 separate lacerations, cuts and bruises on his body.

His family says this suggests he died of positional asphyxia after being taken to the ground by four police officers.

Avoided

Sheku Bayoh's family, including partner Collette Bell and his sister Kadi Johnson, are now suing Police Scotland for £1.85 million, claiming the death could have been avoided.

It is said to be the first case of its kind in Scotland and will reach the Court of Session by 18 May.

Collette Bell said, “We will fight to make sure Shek gets the justice he deserves.

“I ask you, how long would you fight if your loved one was unlawfully killed? What would you want in place to ensure your loved one had justice?

“You would continue to fight and campaign.”

Officers sprayed him with CS gas and pepper spray. They then forced him face down on to the ground and applied handcuffs and leg restraints

Kadi Johnson said, “We have kept an open mind and kept faith in the justice system, but waiting for three years with no answers has been soul destroying.

“We want an end to this, we want to grieve. Our patience has been exhausted and our trust failed.”

Police Scotland chief in 2015 Sir Stephen House met officers being probed over Bayou's death before they gave statements to independent investigators.

The Daily Record newspaper revealed that House spoke to officers within days of Bayoh dying. House even travelled to see one cop at her home. Police Scotland claim it was a “welfare visit”.

Anwar listed six allegations in the civil action. They include that the manner of restraint used by the officers was “not reasonable, proportionate or necessary and resulted in Sheku suffering positional asphyxiation”.

He described how, within seconds of confronting Bayoh on the street, officers had sprayed him with CS gas and pepper spray. They then forced him face down on to the ground and applied handcuffs and leg restraints.

Anwar said the civil action would be paused if any charges are brought over the death.

He called for the resignation of Pirc commissioner Kate Frame, saying the body had failed “to adhere to its values of integrity, impartiality and respect”.

He added, “The investigation into the death of Sheku Bayoh was a national disgrace, to date no officer was suspended without prejudice and despite a final report delivered by Pirc to the Lord Advocate in 2016 he is yet to take action.

“The passage of time means that memories fade and evidence disappears or deteriorates.Sheku's loved ones never wanted to go to court but they will not give up.”


If you enjoy Socialist Worker, please consider giving to our annual appeal to make sure we can maintain and develop our online and print versions of Socialist Worker. Go here for details and to donate.

Mobile users! Don't forget to add Socialist Worker to your home screen.