Search

Rashan Charles’ great uncle, former Met officer Rod Charles: Why avoidable deaths following police contact will increase

PUBLISHED: 08:52 24 July 2018 | UPDATED: 18:00 24 July 2018

Rashan Charles. Picture: Family of Rashan Charles

Rashan Charles. Picture: Family of Rashan Charles

Archant

This month is the first anniversary of the untimely and avoidable death of Rashan Charles.

He was pursued by a police officer into a convenience store in Kingsland Road E8, losing his life whilst being restrained.

Last month an inquest determined his death was an accident. It also identified failings by the police officer, known as BX47, but considered the mistakes not significant and said Rashan’s life was not salvageable in any event.

I do not accept the verdict and findings. Nor do my family and many thousands of people who have seen the CCTV footage showing the final minutes before Rashan’s death.

This is not bitterness stemming from grief or need for vengeance. It is a response to a fact-finding hearing that, in our assessment, was woefully chaired by the coroner Mary Hassell.

In advance of the Inquest sitting I said the end result was predetermined and the process would be a farce, and all has transpired as predicted. Knowing the hearing was premised on a flawed investigation conducted by the Independent Office for Police Conduct, I expected this outcome.

A vigil for Rashan outside the Yours Locally shop in Kingsland Road. Picture: Emma BartholomewA vigil for Rashan outside the Yours Locally shop in Kingsland Road. Picture: Emma Bartholomew

The results of our ongoing investigation will demonstrate why we reject the current findings.

The inquest diverted focus, creating a caricature of Rashan as engaged in organised crime, depicting Hackney – the borough he lived and died in – as a no-go violent zone, and hostile ground for police officers.

I lived and grew up in Hackney. I know the borough has crime challenges, but the growth of new businesses, soaring cost of real estate and gentrification during past two decades were neatly omitted.

The core issue in this case is whether the use of force by BX47 was appropriate and justified. The coroner deemed the force appropriate. Notwithstanding that matters of law are for judges and facts are for the jury to decide, she directed the jury on her assessment of facts. Her decision is based on the evidence given by two “use of force” experts. I know both men from my time serving as a police officer with the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS): they are competent police trainers. But their assessment of Rashan and how he was restrained was not independent, impartial or objective. Their aggregated service is 75 years with the very police service under scrutiny for this death. One of them is still currently employed by the MPS.

The routine closing of ranks and poor decisions by senior police officers after avoidable fatalities compounds damage to police and community relations. This will last for generations.

The death of Rashan Charles was avoidable and this is the same for several other fatal cases.

I know this from my policing experience. I also know these dubious events undermine sterling efforts of thousands of hardworking honest police officers. I retired from the MPS four years ago, having served for 30 years. Assessing this and other fatalities, I have not asked myself: “What would I have done in those circumstances?” But rather: “What did I do when I found myself in similar or circumstances?”

Competent police officers will acknowledge that chasing suspects who attempt to discard or hide evidence is challenging – but it is routine policing. This incident only became extraordinary after the poor tactics selected and used by BX47. This is the primary reason why this death was avoidable.

For well in excess of 50 years there has been huge amount of time, money and resources invested in researching strategies that can slow if not halt the rise in similar fatalities. Two recent inquiries are significant: “Report of the Independent Review of Deaths and Serious Incidents in Police Custody” by Dame Elish Angiolini and “An independent review into the treatment of, and outcomes for, Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic individuals in the Criminal Justice System” by David Lammy MP.

Both are poignant, with excellent detail based on wide ranging research and consultation. However, my opinion is both will be utterly futile. This is not a reflection on the completed inquiries, authors or the contributors; it is simply awareness that there is no real intention within British judicial and political spheres to implement the already existing mass of recommendations.

During 1965 to 2015 there were in excess of fifty reports published: “The Case for Change: The report of the Morris Inquiry” (2004); “Institutional racism and police: fact or fiction?” (2000); “The Stephen Lawrence Inquiry” (1999); “The Broadwater Farm report” (1986); “The Scarman Inquiry” (1981) and “Nigger-hunting in England” (1966)…

These are a very small selection of mainly archived inquiries, research and inspections. All of them were significant during their eras, uncovering, highlighting and signposting causes and potential causes of failed police relations with communities.

There is little new to be gained through merely repeating inquiries. Unless there is effective implementation it is a waste of time, money and resources. Worse still, the risk is there will be no abatement to the rate of avoidable fatalities.

Rod Charles is an investigative researcher and consultant and was a Met officer between 1984 and 2014. He is Rashan Charles’ great-uncle.

Rashan died in the early hours of July 22, 2017, after being chased into Yours Locally, Dalston, by police and restrained on the floor. A post mortem determined he went into cardiac arrest after choking on a cellophane bag containing paracetamol and caffeine.

Related articles

Latest Hackney Stories

13:00

Clapton boss Jonny Fowell had plenty of praise for Barkingside manager Michael Walther despite sealing a 3-0 victory against his side on Friday evening.

Josh Coulson discussed coming up against two old team-mates and how O’s have a job to do

The Spurs forward reflected on the 2-1 win at Brighton & Hove Albion and the focus on his form

10:00

Middlesex captain Dawid Malan admitted his side didn’t bat well enough on day one of their County Championship Division Two match at Durham.

09:00

Amid an underwhelming season at Middlesex one man at least can allow himself a quiet smile of satisfaction.

07:51

Stuart Law will leave his role as West Indies head coach to take over at Middlesex from next season.

A tenant of Hackney Council has been forced to pay nearly £148,000, after an investigation found he had been illegally subletting his property whilst living elsewhere.

From start-ups to household names, the Gazette takes to the streets each week to find and profile a local business with a difference. This week we spoke to a Newington Green cobbler who has been fixing and flogging shoes to the community for the past 35 years.

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now


Newsletter Sign Up

Hackney Gazette twice-weekly newsletter
Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Most read news

Show Job Lists