Rashan Charles death: IPCC climbdown on substance ingested

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has been forced to announce the contents of a package swallowed by a detainee shortly before he died after being blasted for “creating an unnecessary storm”.

Aug 3, 2017

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has been forced to announce the contents of a package swallowed by a detainee shortly before he died after being blasted for “creating an unnecessary storm”. The IPCC, under intense pressure after being accused of “fanning the flames” of mistrust and resentment against the service, had been blasted by the Metropolitan Police Federation (MPF) for issuing “half a story” in its August 2 statement on forensic analysis revealing Mr Charles had not ingested a controlled substance. MPF chair Ken Marsh stressed that the IPCC handling of the case commentary had led to “more questions than answers” by not identifying the substance that the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) officer had been trying to prevent Mr Charles from swallowing. Hours later, after being challenged by Police Professional, the IPCC finally revealed the contents of the package ingested by Mr Charles. IPCC Commissioner Cindy Butts said: “Given the inflammatory nature of some ongoing speculation I will confirm that the package consisted of a mixture of Paracetamol and caffeine wrapped in plastic. “At this stage we have not been provided with a confirmed cause of death for Rashan and our investigation is ongoing.” Ms Butts also confirmed that the IPPC was “looking into the circumstances of Rashan’s death, not investigating Rashan”, pointing out that the “contents of the package are not directly relevant to our investigation”. The backlash from the MPF looks to have stung the IPCC into admitting that, despite being independent scrutinisers of evidence, the organisation “does not work in a bubble”. Ms Butts added: “We are well aware of the discussion that’s going on around the case and the need to do our part to help people have confidence in our investigation.” As well as the IPCC, Mr Marsh also launched into Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott for appearing to foster an environment that registered “deep concern and upset” over the death. Violence erupted at a vigil held outside Stoke Newington Police Station on Friday (July 28). Bottles and fireworks were hurled at officers, cars were damaged and a police officer and member of the public suffered minor injuries. Mr Charles was a passenger in a vehicle stopped by Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) officers in Dalston, east London, on July 22. When he made off, one officer chased him into a shop and detained him with the assistance of a member of the public. He was caught on CCTV placing an object in his mouth before being forced to the ground. He fell ill and died later in hospital. The officer called for medical assistance and attempted to remove the package from his throat. Mr Marsh added: “The IPCC is trying its best to make it difficult for us to do our job. Yet again it is creating an unnecessary storm.” Ms Abbott, who was not available for comment, earlier told the BBC urgent work must be done to rebuild trust between the police service and the local community. However, Ms Abbott said the IPCC`s update, coupled with the recent release of the MPS report on use of force, which showed “a disproportionate use of force against [black and minority ethnic] people, will no doubt cause deep concern and upset”. Mr Marsh attacked her remarks as “despicable” and said they were “not based on fact” – resulting in pointing the finger of “guilt” at an officer. Mr Marsh said Ms Abbott`s intervention in recent days on policing matters was “not helping at all”. He added: “It is not right and definitely not based on facts. “She is saying my colleagues are guilty. As Shadow Home Secretary, if that is her starting point then we don`t have a lot of hope, do we.”

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