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Readers' Letters

Editor’s comment :Sad similarity of two police death cases

PUBLISHED: 15:00 24 January 2018

Demonstration on February 12 1983, following the shooting of Colin Roach inside Stoke Newington Police Station. Picture: DAVID HOFFMAN

Demonstration on February 12 1983, following the shooting of Colin Roach inside Stoke Newington Police Station. Picture: DAVID HOFFMAN

© David Hoffman

A young black man dies after contact with police in Hackney.

An angry community, stung by recent injustices, points the finger at the cops.

The official cause of death exonerates officers, but the dead man’s family and friends still have doubts, as does the wider community. Police face no action.

This was the story of Colin Roach, a man whose death was so shrouded in mystery that we don’t know whether he killed himself or was murdered by police.

Accounts of his final moments are so conflicting that a top barrister accused the police of lying about them – as did an inquest jury. Five years later, a centre was set up in his name to investigate police brutality – and subsequently infiltrated by the police themselves, who spied on activists while having romantic relationships with them.

We had already planned to look back at the Colin Roach scandal on this week’s history pages when news of Rashan Charles’ post mortem result arrived.

Some will look at its conclusion, which took six months to come back, and say the case is closed.Others will bemoan the fact no one has been held accountable for the death of a young man.

There are without question great people in the police force who put their safety on the line every day to help and protect Hackney. The Gazette is not blind to that, and is grateful for their hard work and dedication.

But the case of Colin Roach, and what happened to the centre that bore his name, is a timely reminder of why the community may not be satisfied by the conclusions of bodies like the CPS and IOPC who have close links to the police. Thirty-five years after his death, the onus is still on the local force to earn the community’s trust, and Rashan’s cash shows us there is still work to do.

The case of Colin Roach is a reminder of why the community may not be satisfied by the conclusions of bodies who have close links to police

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