Three recent Black deaths in Met police custody

Three recent Black deaths in Met police custody


Written by: Harmit Athwal

An investigation has been launched after the death of 23-year-old Ayodeji Awogboro in the custody of the Metropolitan police on 11 May.

According to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), which is conducting its own investigation into his death, police followed his car after he allegedly failed to stop at a red traffic light on Seven Sisters Road, north London. After he stopped his car, he ran away and was pursued by police who arrested him. He was taken to Islington police station where he became ‘unwell’, an ambulance was called and he was taken to hospital where he died.

In a controversial move, the north London coroner Dr Andrew Reid refused the IPCC investigators access to the post mortem. The IPCC told IRR News: ‘David Petch, the commissioner with responsibility for this case, had decided to independently investigate the circumstances surrounding Mr Awogboro’s death. He was therefore surprised and disappointed that the coroner resisted an IPCC presence at the post mortem. The IPCC challenged the coroner’s decision at the High Court and Mr Justice Collins ordered the coroner to permit the IPCC’s attendance at the post mortem.’

Investigation into death in Chelsea

The IPCC is also investigating the actions of the Metropolitan police in relation to the death of a 32-year-old Black man who died in Chelsea and Westminster Hospital five days after his arrest on 25 April. Police officers were called to a Chelsea block of flats where a man had been detained on suspicion of burglary. He was arrested but ‘fell ill’ and was taken to hospital where he died. The man has been named as Edward Sharman.

Investigation into death at Osterley tube station

Another recent case, in which the IPCC is managing a Met police investigation, is the death of 43-year-old Savraj Powar who was hit by a train at Osterley tube station in west London on 13 May. Met police had gone to his home and placed him under arrest. According to the IPCC, ‘as officers carried out their enquiries’ he managed to escape and drove away; he was found dead shortly after.

No charges for police officers following death

The CPS has decided that because of ‘insufficient evidence’ no police officers will face charges in connection with the death of 43-year-old Frank Ogboru in Woolwich, southeast London on 26 September 2006. Frank, a Nigerian man, died after being arrested. CS spray was used and he was restrained by at last four officers, before he ‘became unwell and stopped breathing.’ Attempts were made to resuscitate him, London Ambulance Service was called and he was taken to Queen Elizabeth hospital where he was pronounced dead. The IPCC will now send a file to the Metropolitan Police Service for their recommendation as to whether any disciplinary action is proposed. The IPCC will then take the final decision. An inquest has yet to be held.

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The Institute of Race Relations is precluded from expressing a corporate view: any opinions expressed are therefore those of the authors.

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