Socialist Worker

Anger after Rashan Charles inquest verdict

by Sadie Robinson
Issue No. 2610

An angry demonstration last July after Rashans death

An angry demonstration last July after Rashan's death (Pic: Socialist Worker)

The family of Rashan Charles have branded an inquest a farce after the jury found that his death was an accident.

In a statement his family said the inquest “does not stall community relations by weeks or years, but sets it back generations”.

Rashan died in July last year after being restrained by a police officer in a shop in Hackney, east London. His death followed the death of Edson Da Costa after being stopped by police in nearby Newham.

It led to angry protests.

Rod Charles, Rashan’s great uncle, told the Press Association before the verdict was returned that the inquest process had “descended into farce”.

“I have due respect for the jury but I have rafts and waves of concerns with the process,” he said. “I have had to listen to implausible evidence at times, and at times downright lies.”

Rod Charles, who is a retired Met police chief inspector, added that the coroner had “shackled” the jury.

Coroner Mary Hassell had ruled out more critical verdicts of neglect or unlawful killing. She said she did not believe that “a reasonable jury could see this”.

Restraint

The inquest jury found that Rashan died of a cardiac arrest after his airway was obstructed by a foreign body during a period of restraint.

Paramedics removed a package from his throat that was later found to contain a mix of caffeine and paracetamol.

The officer who stopped him, known only as BX47, was shown on CCTV tackling him to the ground before handcuffing and restraining him.

The jury said that BX47’s restraint was a “justified use of force” but said he didn’t follow procedures by taking “immediate and appropriate action in the face of a medical emergency”.

The jury also found that BX47 did not manage the impact of Witness 1 who assisted in Rashan’s restraint.

The jury added, “Rashan’s life was not salvageable at a point prior to which the medical emergency was readily identifiable.”

Expert medical witness Jasmeet Soar had previously told the inquest that Rashan’s life could possibly had been saved had CPR been started sooner.

He said the way that BX47 tackled Rashan to the ground “clearly contributed” to the package getting lodged in his throat.

Mary Hassell said, “Rashan’s death was an accident which occurred by virtue of deliberate human actions on the part of Rashan, the police officer who chased him and a civilian bystander, which unexpectedly and inadvertently led to the death of Rashan.”

Rashan’s family said an Independent Office for Police Complaints (IOPC) investigation into Rashan’s death was “flawed from the outset”.

In a statement the family said, “We were left out of key decisions, evidence was excluded, police-worn video missing and time frames manipulated.

“This felt to be a predetermined process by the IOPC, the Metropolitan police and the CPS.

Rashan’s family said an IOPC investigation into Rashan’s death was 'flawed from the outset'

“The submissions by the family barrister were overturned in court and evidence dismissed. The jury had to make a decision based on the limited evidence and confines put upon them.”

The family added that two expert witnesses on restraint had “75 years combined service in the Metropolitan police, and one still serving”.

“This appears to us neither objective, independent or impartial.”

The family also said that police “projected a criminal caricature of Rashan even after his death. This successfully served to detract from the events of 22 July 2017.”

Deborah Coles from the Inquest campaign group said, “The officer lost sight of Rashan’s safety and humanity. The death occurred in the context of a systematic pattern of disproportionate use of force against young black men, along with over policing and criminalisation.”

Rashan’s friends and family members had to wait outside the court for the verdict on Wednesday. They have vowed to keep fighting for justice.

Rod Charles said, “I will not stop with this case while I’m still breathing.”


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