Officer faces misconduct investigation after Rashan Charles death
A police officer who restrained Rashan Charles, the man whose death sparked protests in east London, is being investigated for gross misconduct after a review of video footage captured by a camera he was wearing at the time.
Announcing a new phase in its investigation into Charles’s death on 22 July in Hackney, the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) said the officer involved may have breached police standards on detention and restraint.
The unnamed male Metropolitan police officer may also have breached police standards in how he dealt with a medical emergency, IPCC commissioner Cindy Butts said in a statement.
The new phase in the investigation comes after the IPCC reviewed footage of the incident from both CCTV cameras in the area and the body-worn cameras of the officer involved and others at the scene. Butts said that the move did not necessarily mean charges of misconduct would be brought against the officer.
Before he died, Charles was seen running into a shop on Kingsland Road in Dalston, where the officer apprehended him. Police had earlier tried to stop him in a vehicle.
CCTV footage showed the officer struggling with Charles on the shop floor. After Charles was detained and handcuffed, with help from a member of the public, attempts were made to remove an object from his mouth or throat. His condition then deteriorated.
Charles’s contact with police came at around 1.45am and he was pronounced dead 70 minutes later at the Royal London hospital.
Video of the incident appeared to show him swallowing a package, leading to speculation it contained illegal drugs. Tests have shown that it did not: the contents were revealed to have been a mixture of caffeine and paracetamol.
Ken Marsh, the chair of the Metropolitan Police Federation, which is representing the officer, claimed the officer was trying save Charles’s life by preventing him swallowing what he thought were dangerous drugs. “This happened in a fraction of a second; the officer had to make a decision,” he said last month.
Despite two postmortems and toxicology tests, the exact cause of death remains unknown. A coroner’s inquest into Charles’s death has been delayed until after the IPCC investigation. A preinquest review will be held in Poplar on 15 November 2017.
Investigators have been considering whether Charles’s death was caused by the package’s plastic wrapping rather than its contents. The member of the public who helped in efforts to detain Charles has been interviewed as a witness.
Charles’s death and the resulting violent reaction has echoes of the death of Mark Duggan, who was shot by officers in 2011 in Tottenham, leading to some of the worst riots in modern English history.
The IPCC cleared armed officers of any wrongdoing in the killing of Duggan, but called for urgent improvements in the accountability of undercover firearms operations after finding a lack of audio or video material of the incident.
Body-worn video cameras were introduced in the Met as an attempt to improve the accountability of all frontline officers.
Rashan Charles died about 70 minutes after police arrested him in a shop in east London. He appeared to swallow something at the scene