Socialist Worker

Officer who restrained Rashan Charles failed to follow safety rules, inquest hears

by Sadie Robinson
Issue No. 2608

A protest in Hackney, east London, last July following the death of Rashan Charles

A protest in Hackney, east London, last July following the death of Rashan Charles (Pic: Guy Smallman)


The police officer who restrained Rashan Charles before he died has admitted failing to follow safety rules.

Rashan died in July last year after the officer tackled him in a shop in Hackney, east London. The officer, known as BX47, gave evidence to an inquest into Rashan’s death in London this week.

The inquest heard that BX47 has worked for the Metropolitan Police for a decade and has been a member of the Met’s Territorial Support Group since 2010. He has completed 21 different safety training courses during his career, including emergency life support and first aid.

BX47 used a “seatbelt” armlock to force Rashan to the floor of the shop before handcuffing him. He then attempted several “abdominal thrusts” before an officer who was more experienced in first aid arrived.

The inquest heard that BX47 told Rashan to “spit it out” nine times, as he suspected Rashan had swallowed drugs. The Independent Police Complaints Commission later found that a package removed from Rashan’s body was not a “controlled substance” but a mixture of caffeine and paracetamol.

BX47 said he had been concerned for Rashan’s safety. He confirmed that he did not follow police procedure to call an ambulance as soon as it is thought someone has something in their mouth that they may swallow.

Breathing

He said that he conducted breathing checks but not for the ten seconds recommended in police safety manuals. He also failed to assess the condition of Rashan’s skin, again as recommended in safety guidance.

Jude Bunting, barrister for Rashan’s family, asked if BX47 had forgotten his safety training. “There was a lot going on,” said BX47.

Bunting also suggested that BX47 could have tried to de-escalate the situation. BX47 said that would have been “difficult” as Rashan “was running away”.

Rashan was restrained just days after Edson Da Costa died after being stopped by police in Newham, also in east London.

BX47 confirmed at the inquest that he had not turned on his body-worn camera when he started chasing Rashan. He said he was relatively new to the equipment.

The press and public in the inquest have been barred from seeing the jury, coroner and witnesses. Coroner Mary Hassell granted two officers involved in the case anonymity despite rejecting claims that there was a “direct threat” to their lives.

The inquest continues


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