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Thursday, 16 August 2018

Police officer cleared over death of 20-year-old following 'unorthodox' restraint

Written by Margaret Davis

A police officer has been cleared of misconduct over the death of a 20-year-old who was restrained in an "unorthodox" way on a shop floor.

Rashan Charles died in July 2017 after he was chased on foot to the store (pictured) in Dalston, east London, and swallowed a package as he was detained.

A post-mortem examination concluded that he died from a heart attack after the package, found to contain a mixture of paracetamol and caffeine, blocked his airway.

On Wednesday the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) found that while the officer, known only as BX47, had not done his job satisfactorily, he was not guilty of misconduct.

IOPC regional director for London, Jonathan Green, said: "We found that Officer BX47 was responsible for some basic failings and although they may not have been the cause of Rashan's death, I think they do represent a failure to perform his role satisfactorily, either through a lack of competence or capability.

"The evidence suggests that the situation which developed in the shop, did so rapidly, taking the officer by surprise to the extent that he 'froze' in circumstances which were difficult, stressful and exhausting.

"These failures, however, were not deliberate and it is acknowledged by witnesses present at the scene, supported by expert evidence gathered in this investigation, that BX47 did his best in difficult circumstances."

The watchdog found that the decisions to stop Mr Charles's car and chase him on foot were justified, and the officer's restraint technique, although "unorthodox", did not contribute to his death.

However, it said that BX47 did not follow recognised first-aid protocols when it became clear that Mr Charles may have swallowed something and should have called an ambulance sooner, even though ultimately this would not have saved his life.

BX47, who also failed to switch on his body-worn video camera, will now be put through internal Metropolitan Police performance procedures.

The family's lawyer Imran Khan QC said the family is considering how to challenge the IOPC decision.

He said: "We are discussing with Rashan's family the content of the IOPC's findings and actively considering challenges to the decision because they are extremely disappointed.

"Rashan Charles, a young man at the beginning of his life, died in 21st-century London following contact with a police officer, yet no police officer has faced any meaningful sanction whatsoever.

"The tragic and untimely death of Rashan could have been an opportunity for learning lessons so that abhorrent practices could be fundamentally changed. That opportunity now appears to have been lost with the risk that such an event might happen again."

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Richard Martin said: "The conclusion of the IOPC investigation supports the recent finding by the inquest jury, that BX47 lawfully and justifiably apprehended and restrained Mr Charles.

"When it became apparent Mr Charles was in difficulty, first aid and CPR was carried out but nothing BX47 nor their colleague could have done would have saved his life.

"The IOPC investigation has identified some learning to take forward for BX47 and this will be progressed.

"The death of anyone after involvement with police is a matter of deep regret and our thoughts and sympathies remain with all those affected."

In June an inquest found that Mr Charles's death was accidental.

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2018, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Jonathan Brady / PA Wire.