A cop who restrained a 20 year old black man shortly before he died has been cleared of misconduct.
The officer, known as BX47, hauled Rashan Charles to the floor of a shop in Hackney, east London, in the early hours of 22 July last year. He died soon after. The restraint was captured on CCTV and led to angry protests.
The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) on Wednesday found that BX47 had not done his job properly. But the cops’ pet watchdog cleared him of misconduct.
The IOPC said BX47 was “responsible for some basic failings” that represented “a failure to perform his role satisfactorily”. It said BX47’s restraint technique was “unorthodox”. But it added that the officer faced “difficult, stressful and exhausting” circumstances and said, “BX47 did his best.”
Scotland Yard initially said Rashan had been “trying to swallow an object”. It was widely implied that Rashan was trying to swallow drugs in order to undermine concern about his death.
Family friend Awa told Socialist Worker hours after Rashan’s death, “They’re already painting him as just a drug dealer.
“The cops are useless, they just target people, not just black people, for no reason – and it always ends up this way. He had a child. Now that child will have to grow up without a father.”
A post-mortem examination later found that a package in Rashan’s throat contained paracetamol and caffeine.
BX47 will continue as a police officer. Metropolitan Police Deputy Assistant Commissioner Richard Martin said the IOPC investigation “has identified some learning to take forward for BX47 and this will be progressed”.
He claimed that BX47 could have done nothing to save Rashan’s life. But expert medical witness Jasmeet Soar told an inquest into his death earlier this year that Rashan’s life could have 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.
The inquest said BX47 didn’t follow procedures by taking “immediate and appropriate action in the face of a medical emergency”. BX47 also failed to turn on his body-worn camera.
The inquest found that Rashan’s death was “accidental”.
In a statement Rashan’s family said they felt the inquest was “a predetermined process by the IOPC, the Metropolitan Police and the CPS”.
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.”