A man who helped a police officer restrain Rashan Charles before he died has told an inquest that he was trying to protect Rashan.
Rashan died after being restrained by a police officer in a shop in Hackney, east London, last July. The officer, known as BX47, previously told the inquest into Rashan’s death that he failed to follow a number of safety rules.
The man, known as Witness 1, said he offered to help the cop. The inquest heard that he held Rashan’s hand behind his back to be handcuffed.
Footage of the restraint shows Witness 1 straddling Rashan, pinching his nose and putting a finger in his mouth. Witness 1 said he was trying to make sure Rashan could breathe.
“I lent an extra hand,” he told the inquest. “I wanted to assist both. It was not mainly for the police officer, it was also to assist Rashan. I wanted to show Rashan I am there to help him.”
Witness 1 said that when a second officer, known as BX48, arrived she “took better control of the situation”. BX48 told the inquest on Tuesday that she “followed the protocol I had been taught”.
Witness 1 said BX47 seemed “panicked”, “confused” and “in shock”.
Footage shows Witness 1’s leg apparently resting on Rashan’s thigh for some time. The coroner asked him, “Were you resting on him?” Witness 1 replied, “I was resting on my elbow and my knee.”
The footage shows Witness 1 and BX47 handcuff Rashan while he is lying face down and still on the floor.
At one point Witness 1 says, “He’s just putting it on.” He told the court that he thought Rashan “might have gone into a fit”. He said Rashan showed no sign of strength, response or struggle.
He said he couldn’t be certain whether Rashan was biting his finger. He said he was “not sure” whether Rashan was conscious.
Jude Bunting, representing Rashan’s family, reminded Witness 1 that in previous statements he said Rashan lost consciousness before BX48 arrived. When asked if he agreed with this, Witness 1 replied, “Yes.”
Officer BX47 can be heard on body worn camera footage saying, “We are not fussed about the drugs.” A package later removed from Rashan’s throat was found to contain caffeine and paracetamol.
Under questioning Witness 1 agreed that BX47 was panicking after Rashan was restrained. He said he didn’t receive instructions on what to do until BX48 arrived.
He said “as far as I could tell” officers did all they could to save Rashan.
The inquest continues.