Kevin was 35 when he died following police contact in Lewisham, South London in March 2018. Kevin was a black man, who suffered from mental ill health. He came into contact with police during a mental health crisis on a residential street in Lewisham on the afternoon of Friday 9 March. He was restrained by police before he “became unwell”, and was taken to hospital where he was later pronounced dead. The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) has today 08/05/2018, announced that the actions of nine police officers involved in the death of Kevin Clarke will be investigated for gross misconduct.
The family of Kevin Clarke has issued the following statement through their solicitor, Cyrilia Knight Davies of Hudgell Solicitors: “The news from the IOPC has left us reeling. On the one hand, we feel vindicated that everyone who dealt with Kevin in his final minutes will be interviewed to explain their actions. Yet, we’re shocked to the core to learn that the police felt it necessary to use the force of nine officers to restrain one unwell man.
The very fact that the police called an ambulance to provide medical assistance for Kevin tells us that they knew he was unwell and potentially experiencing a mental health episode so we’re struggling to understand the reason for such an excessive response. Kevin must have been petrified in his final minutes and it is agony for us to even think about this.
We’re keeping focused on getting to the truth. Naturally, we welcome the news that all nine officers may face charges and also the news that the Met’s contact with Kevin earlier on the day he died will be investigated. Only by reviewing all of the circumstances leading up to Kevin’s untimely passing, can we be sure of getting answers. We hope the IOPC will be able to complete their investigation swiftly and with the full cooperation of all the officers. Our wish is that the IOPC’s report will lead to systematic change in the way officers treat vulnerable people.
Finally, we’d like to say thank you for all the love and support we have been shown at this difficult time. It has been a huge comfort to know that we are in people’s thoughts and we ask that you keep us in your prayers.”
Deborah Coles, Executive Director of INQUEST said: “There is an alarmingly disproportionate pattern of deaths of people from black and minority ethnic communities following the use of force by the Metropolitan police. The serious risks of restraint on people with mental ill health are well recognised, which makes the death of Kevin Clarke following restraint all the more disturbing. It is vital that any wrongdoing is identified and those involved are held to account”.
Cyrilia Davies Knight of Hudgell Solicitors said: “Gross misconduct is the highest sanction available to the IOPC and so I am heartened that the circumstances surrounding Kevin’s death are clearly being taken very seriously. It’s vital that the Met, and all other police forces, learn lessons and change their practices from tragic cases like this.”
Source: INQUEST, https://is.gd/GCvqge