Socialist Worker

Inquiry into the death of Sheku Bayoh gets underway

by Charlie Kimber
Issue No. 2733

Hundreds joined a funeral march for Sheku Bayoh in June 2015

Hundreds joined a funeral march for Sheku Bayoh in June 2015 (Pic: Arthur Nicoll)


A public inquiry into the death of Sheku Bayoh in police custody in Fife, near Edinburgh, began on Monday.

The 31 year old, who was originally from Sierra Leone, died after being restrained by six police officers in a Kirkcaldy street in 2015.

Within seconds of confronting Bayoh on the street, officers had sprayed him with CS gas and pepper spray. They then forced him face down on to the ground and applied handcuffs and leg restraints.

A post-mortem revealed Bayoh had died from positional asphyxia, which means that he was unable to breathe. He suffered some 25 injuries.

Yet nobody has been held to account.

In October 2018 the Lord Advocate, Scotland’s top law officer, announced that there would be no prosecutions in relation to the death.

Prosecute

In November 2019, after a review at the request of Bayoh’s family, the Lord Advocate confirmed the decision not to prosecute. But demands for justice continued, resulting in the public inquiry.

Solicitor Aamer Anwar, who is appearing at the inquiry for Bayoh’s partner and family, tweeted, “Five and half years ago in his death he was stereotyped and criminalised, but his family fought back for him.”

Inquiry chair Lord Bracadale opened the inquiry.

He said it would look at “the immediate circumstances leading to the death of Mr Bayoh, how the police dealt with the aftermath, the conduct by the Lord Advocate and whether race was a factor”.

Bracadale added, “We will have in the region of 50,000 documents to scrutinise.”

Adverts recruiting for inquiry staff suggest it could last for “three or four years”.


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