A senior police officer said during a death investigation that the fact that a man who died after being held by police was black and Muslim would “naturally” cause possible community issues.
On May 3, 2015, Sheku Bayoh, a 31-year-old father of two, passed away after being placed on the ground by six police officers in Kirkcaldy, Fife.
One of the attorneys defending the Bayoh family, Claire Mitchell KC, questioned Chief Superintendent Nicola Shepherd more on the third day of her testimony at the Sheku Bayoh Inquiry. Her inquiries centered on her opinions on the effect of his death on the neighborhood.
According to Ms. Shepherd, fatalities while in detention “undoubtedly” have an effect on the neighborhood.
“The fact that Mr Bayoh was black, that he was of Muslim faith, would automatically then create potential community tensions”
She claimed that the larger community’s influence had been acknowledged.
“The fact that Mr. Bayoh was black and a Muslim would obviously lead to the possibility of racial conflicts both inside and outside of both groups.
“I fully acknowledge that they were elements that would have given rise to some worry.”
The tweet below also covered the news of a black man who died in custody:
Seven deputies and three hospital workers were charged with second-degree murder after a Black man died in custody after allegedly being pinned to the ground while his hands and legs were shackled. https://t.co/7sQSRIEdKV
— BuzzFeed News (@BuzzFeedNews) March 16, 2023
Some Black Inmates’ Deaths In Prison
Concerns about the deaths of certain black individuals in jail in the UK and the US were brought up by Ms. Shepherd to the investigation.
“Deaths in police custody are undoubtedly going to have an effect,” she added. A black man, Mr. Bayoh. Undoubtedly, it was going to have an effect on community concerns.
“If you’ve got the death of somebody in custody that’s being identified or perceived to have been identified to have a protected characteristic, then I think it’s understandable that particular community that person identifies as belonging to would be impacted.”
Ms Mitchell asked: “Why would the public and the press make links with him being a Muslim which would require the police to consider putting reassurance measures in place?”
Ms Shepherd responded: “I think they would make the links through past events that would suggest there may be measures then that have to be adopted to reassure those communities.”
The mother of one of Mr. Bayoh’s two boys, who is his ex-partner, told the investigation on Thursday that she learned of his passing on social media.
Ms. Shepherd is one of the officers who has raised concerns about the investigation’s communication plan about Mr. Bayoh’s death.
Ms. Shepherd testified before the inquiry on Thursday that the absence of information that was made publicly available “made her job that bit more difficult” because she was unable to provide local elected officials with an accurate account of what happened so they could then inform their constituents.
Detective Superintendent Patrick Campbell said earlier this week that there was “reluctance” within the force to be more “overt” in the media approach and that officers should have been more proactive in making comments and asking for any witnesses or dashcam evidence.
The investigation is still going on before Lord Bracadale in Edinburgh.
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