Socialist Worker

Edson Da Costa was ‘choking’ as he was held by five cops

Witness told inquest into death of Edson Da Costa that police ‘acted like wrestlers’, reports?Sadie Robinson

Issue No. 2654

Edson Da Costa

Edson Da Costa


An inquest jury has heard that Edir Da Costa, known as Edson, was “choking” as five cops were on top of him during a stop.

Edson died after being stopped by police in Beckton, east London, on 15 June 2017. Claude Greenaway was travelling in a car with him at the time. He said Edson was “not trying to resist” while he was on the ground.

“I think he was already choking,” Claude told the jury at Walthamstow Coroner’s Court on Thursday of last week.

The court heard that one officer had Edson in a headlock and another kneed him in the side. “He was shaking,” said Claude. “They were big guys. They were acting like it was WWF. I relive it every day. I have nightmares about it.”

Claude said one officer sprayed CS gas into Edson’s face. He saw ­something coming out of Edson’s mouth. When he told officers to call an ambulance he was told that they knew what they were doing.

“I kept saying, ‘You’ve killed him, you’ve killed him,’” he said.

Neil Saunders, representing the officers who stopped Edson, suggested that Edson was “rugby tackled” to the ground as he tried to flee.

Claude agreed there was nothing to indicate that Edson was choking during restraint.

He didn’t agree that two officers used “distraction” blows.

Police

John Beggs QC, representing the Metropolitan Police, said, “The police did not put 87 wraps of crack and heroin in Edir’s hand that evening, did they? The police did not send Edir out to deal drugs.”

Claude said the questioning was “drawing away from the facts”.

He denied that he, Edson and Jussara Gomes, who was driving the car, were linked to the “Portuguese Mafia” gang.

Coroner Nadia Persaud told the court that intelligence linking Edson to the gang is “untested”.

She said that before being restrained Edson “put a number of wraps containing drugs in his mouth”. She said this version of events may change as evidence is given to the inquest.

A statement from Edson’s father Ginario described Edson as a “clean-living boy” who made some “bad” friendships when he was around 18 years old.

Ginario said Edson’s mother, who had lived in Portugal, was prevented from attending Edson’s funeral because she was refused a visa.

“I think this was too much for her,” he said.

The jury heard that she was found drowned in a river following Edson’s death.

Ginario described seeing Edson after his death. “No parent should have to see their child in the condition that I saw Edson that morning,” he said.

“I have waited almost two years to know what happened to my boy. As a family we deserve answers.”

The inquest continues.

An inquest into the death of Darren Cumberbatch is set to begin on Tuesday 28 May. Darren died after being arrested by police in Nuneaton, Warwickshire, in July 2017. The inquest is expected to last between three and four weeks.

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