Vigil planned outside Stoke Newington police station for Rashan Charles, who died after being tackled by police
- Credit: Emma Bartholomew
A vigil will be held outside Stoke Newington police station tonight for Rashan Charles, who died after being tackled by police in a Dalston shop on Saturday.
Flowers are still being laid outside the Yours Locally shop in Haggerston today in tribute to the 20-year-old who was chased, restrained and cuffed inside by police in the early hours of Saturday morning.
One young girl was weeping this morning as she added her bunch of flowers to the 40 already at the side of the shop in Kingsland Road, at the junction with Middleton Road.
Footage circulating on social media, believed to be taken from the shop’s CCTV, shows a man struggling in an officer’s grip before apparently being pushed to the ground, held down by a second man, and handcuffed over the course of two minutes.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), which is investigating officers’ role in the events, said cops had run after a man when he got out of a car they had been chasing in Kingsland Road at 1.45am.
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Mr Charles, said to have been a passenger in the car, reportedly ran into the shop and tried to swallow something. An object was apparently removed from his throat at the scene and he died at the Royal London Hospital soon after.
A friend of Mr Charles, who he met at Bridge Academy secondary school in Haggerston, was rearranging roses at the tribute site this morning.
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He told the Gazette he was still in shock and disbelief.
“To be honest, he was a really nice person, you know?” he said.
“He was always smiling and joking around and stuff, but now there’s nothing we can do really.
“I was upset because I was with him two days ago and it’s really sad. He was one of my best friends.”
Another man, Daniel Luke, told the Gazette: “Of course I felt angry when I found out. We all have kids. We all have family.
“Pauline Pearce [nicknamed the Hackney Heroine for standing up to rioters in 2011, now a Lib Dem spokeswoman] said on the radio to gather up down here because he is one of us, which he is. You’ll see much more people here later on, today, tomorrow and for the rest of this week – and the same at Stoke Newington police station.”
Alan Gibson from the group Stand Up to Racism, which is behind the vigil, said it was a “particularly tragic case”.
He added: “We decided it would be good to protest this particular event and to see what the police have to say for themselves.
“It’s up for questioning whether we can claim it was the police action that led to this man’s death, and we aren’t going to pass judgement on the precise details, because that is going to be up for investigation.
“But we do feel it’s important to highlight these incidents when they happens to make it clear to the police there are organisations that take these things very seriously to the degree where we are prepared to organise events like this to get as many people to come along as possible.”
As the announcement of the vigil circulated on social media, Hackney’s borough commander Ch Supt Simon Laurence issued a statement saying police could not answer questions about Rashan’s death because of the investigation.
“Firstly I would like to express my condolences to the family of the young man who sadly died on Saturday morning,” he said.
“I understand the community want answers about what happened and no explanation can come quickly enough for a family in mourning.
“This is now subject to an independent investigation by the IPCC. It is their job to investigate this incident and their work started on Saturday.
“I understand you may have questions – however it is only the IPCC who should talk about their investigation.”
He added: “I understand his death has had an impact on some members of the local community. Today, I have met with community representatives who attended a meeting here at Stoke Newington police station.
“They have been fully briefed and the dialogue between the police and these representatives will be ongoing so we can hear the community’s concerns and how they are feeling.”
The vigil was set to start at 6.30pm. You can read more and see pictures on the Gazette website tomorrow.