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Rashan Charles: Inquest into Dalston shop death begins as police anonymity sees public forced to sit behind curtain

PUBLISHED: 14:39 04 June 2018 | UPDATED: 14:44 04 June 2018

Rashan Charles. Picture: Family of Rashan Charles

Rashan Charles. Picture: Family of Rashan Charles

Archant

The inquest into the death of Rashan Charles started this morning – with press and the public shielded from proceedings by a black curtain.

The vigil for Rashan outside the Yours Locally shop in Kingsland High Street. Picture: Emma BartholomewThe vigil for Rashan outside the Yours Locally shop in Kingsland High Street. Picture: Emma Bartholomew

The 20-year-old father of one died in the early hours of July 22, shortly after being restrained by police at the Yours Locally shop in Kingsland Road.

CCTV footage of the incident surfaced online hours after Rashan’s death. It sparked protests outside Stoke Newington police station and clashes with riot police in Kingsland Road.

Senior coroner Mary Hassell has granted anonymity to two Met officers involved, as well as two witnesses, one of whom helped police restrain Rashan by sitting on him.

The order, which has been opposed by Rashan’s family and is now being challenged by the press, including the Gazette, means journalists and members of the public are being made to sit behind a black curtain and cannot see the proceedings.

Members of Rashan’s family attended the inquest at St Pancras Coroner’s Court, which is scheduled to last three weeks.

It began with jurors being shown CCTV footage from the shop. In it, Rashan can be seen entering the shop and putting something in his mouth – later confirmed to be a package of caffeine and paracetamol wrapped in cellophane.

An officer, who is set to give evidence this afternoon under the name BX47, chases him into the shop and grapples him to the floor.

As they struggle on the floor, “Witness 1” arrives and sits on Rashan. He stays sitting on him for some 10 minutes, after Rashan has been handcuffed and after he appears to lose consciousness.

Esa Charles (left), father of Rashan Charles, with Stafford Scott, a family spokesman. Picture: Lauren Hurley/PA WireEsa Charles (left), father of Rashan Charles, with Stafford Scott, a family spokesman. Picture: Lauren Hurley/PA Wire

This afternoon, body-worn footage from officer BX47 is set to be played, before he gives evidence.

The inquest follows a decision by the Crown Prosecution Service not to charge the officer involved with common assault.

And investigators for the police watchdog, the IOPC, have said Rashan “most likely” died because he tried to swallow a package that blocked his airway.

A pathologist found the 20-year-old dad-of-one had “no other significant injuries to the head, neck or torso that would suggest prolonged or excessive restraint in the lead up to his death”.

Riot police in Kingsland Road as a protest over the death of Rashan Charles saw tensions flare last summer. Picture: Lauren Hurley/PA WireRiot police in Kingsland Road as a protest over the death of Rashan Charles saw tensions flare last summer. Picture: Lauren Hurley/PA Wire

The IOPC said the officers had tried to remove the then-unidentified package from Rashan’s mouth or throat after he was detained.

He then became “unwell” and died soon after being taken to the Royal London Hospital. The post-mortem results indicate Rashan died of cardiac arrest brought on by a blocked upper airway.

The inquest continues.

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