A police officer has been cleared of misconduct after a 20-year-old man died while being restrained in east London.
The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) said on Wednesday that the officer concerned had failed to do his job satisfactorily, but his shortcomings were not deliberate and that he “froze in circumstances which were difficult, stressful and exhausting”.
Rashan Charles died after putting a package in his mouth after he was detained by police in a shop in Dalston in July 2017. An inquest in June concluded his death was accidental.
Charles’ family are now “actively considering challenges” to the decision, their lawyer Imran Khan QC said, because they are “extremely disappointed” in the IOPC’s findings,
Khan said the family were “particularly concerned” by the manner in which they have been treated throughout the investigation process.
“Regrettably, the IOPC, not unlike its predecessor the IPCC (Independent Police Complaints Commission), has not delivered the accountability and justice that this family deserve and the public require in order to have any confidence in the way in which it deals with and investigates complaints against the police,” the lawyer said in a statement.
He continued: “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.”
Investigators found that the decisions to stop Charles’ car and chase him on foot were justified, and the police officer’s restraint technique, although “unorthodox”, did not contribute to his death.
However, the officer, known as BX47, did not follow recognised first aid protocols when it became clear that Charles may have swallowed something and should have called an ambulance sooner, even though ultimately this would not have saved his life.
Jonathan Green, the IOPC regional director for London, said: “This was a tragic incident and I cannot begin to imagine the loss that Rashan’s family have suffered. My sympathies remain with them and everyone affected by Rashan’s death.
“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 Metropolitan Police Service has since agreed with the IOPC’s recommendation that the unnamed officer undergo unsatisfactory performance procedures for his failings that day.
The force said in a statement: “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.”
The Met added that it had received a report from the coroner following the inquest and will “respond to her recommendations, around potential updates for training of officers, in due course:.
Read the full The Independent Office for Police Conduct report here.