Socialist Worker

Frank Ogboru - another death in police custody

Issue No. 2021

A Nigerian man died last week after being restrained by several police officers in south east London.

Frank Ogboru stopped breathing after being pinned down in the street. He had been holidaying in London, and got into an argument with the girlfriend of a friend he was staying with in Woolwich. Police called to the apartment block tried to arrest him outside.

He lost consciousness as officers held him down and he was later pronounced dead in hospital. Witness Sean Pops said he saw several officers kneeling on Frank Ogboru. “The officers were on top of him, you could tell he was in a lot of pain,” said Sean. “The guy kept saying, ‘I can’t breathe’.”

Another witness, watched from her window. “First there were two officers, then four, then more,” she said. “It was like they were squashing him.

“They were pinning him down and handcuffing him. I saw officers with their knees on him and their feet on him. He was just wailing - the kind of sound a dog would make if it was kicked. I thought there were too many of them on him.”

Another witness said he saw an officer standing with his foot on Ogboru’s neck as another tried to cuff him.

The incident was recorded on a mobile phone by a passer?by. The phone was seized by the police as evidence. The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has launched an investigation into the death.

It is the third controversial death to hit police in south east London in just over a year. Paul Coker died in a cell at Plumstead police station in August last year after being arrested for breaching the peace. The IPCC has presented a file to the Crown Prosecution Service for consideration.

Six months later, Nuur Saeed fell to his death from a second-floor flat in Woolwich as police raided it. The IPCC cleared officers of any wrongdoing. The police have conceded Nuur Saeed was not a target of the raid.

Deborah Coles, co?director of Inquest, which supports the families of people who have died in police custody, said, “We are deeply worried and saddened by this latest restraint-related death.

“It is vital that the death is subject to a criminal investigation to ascertain whether a criminal offence has been committed.

“The dangers of restraint are well known as a result of other deaths involving the Metropolitan Police and this death raises very serious concerns.”

A total of 37 black people have died in police custody since 2000.

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Sat 7 Oct 2006, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 2021
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