Of­fi­cer faces mis­con­duct in­ves­ti­ga­tion af­ter Rashan Charles death

The Guardian - - NATIONAL - Matthew Weaver

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

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