- Created: Friday, 11 September 2015 10:59
- Written by Michael MacGregor
FRFI supporters from across Scotland joined hundreds marching through Kirkcaldy on Sunday 6 September to demand justice for Sheku Bayoh, a 31 year old father of two who was killed in police custody on Sunday 3 May. Sheku moved to Britain from Sierra Leone when he was 11 and had lived in Fife since he was 17.
Right from the start there was a cover-up. Sheku’s family were given five different accounts from Police Scotland about the circumstances surrounding his death, including allegations that Sheku was carrying a knife, and that he was found dead by a member of the public. Sheku was unarmed and died in police custody. Whilst Police Scotland has refused to release CCTV footage, what is known is that police forced Sheku to the ground less than two minutes after confronting him, using CS spray, pepper spray and batons. Handcuffs, leg and ankle restraints were applied while he was face down. Still in handcuffs, Sheku was pronounced dead at Victoria Hospital within two hours of the start of the incident,.
Hand in hand with Police Scotland’s lies and media smears is the complicity of Scotland’s own Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (PIRC). Immediately following Sheku’s death, police officers involved were summoned to the station where they met together until that evening. Nine of the officers involved in Sheku’s detention then refused to provide information to the PIRC for 32 days. In August, the PIRC approached controversial US pathologist Dr Steven Karch, who has consistently ruled ‘excited delirium’ as the cause of death in similar cases. This bizarre medical condition, which, according to the Los Angeles Times in 2003 was being ruled as the reason behind the majority off all in-custody deaths in the US, is scarcely supported by medical evidence, yet is now being used in attempts to explain away police culpability.
PIRC have powers of arrest, detention and ability to seize evidence when investigating serious incidents and yet they have refused to use these powers in Sheku's case and remain completely subservient to the interests of Police Scotland. The recent revelation that nearly 75% of senior PIRC investigators are ex-police is hardly shocking. The two key individuals overseeing and investigating the Bayoh case are John Mitchell, former head of CID at Strathclyde Police and John McSporran, who retired from Strathclyde Police in 2012 after 30 years’ service. Some independent inquiry!
Over the last two months, the Revolutionary Communist Group has stood shoulder to shoulder with the campaign. Supporters have taken to the streets of Glasgow, Dundee, Leith and Kirkcaldy to demand truth and justice for Sheku Bayoh. Kirkcaldy’s march highlights the anger against Police Scotland and the Scottish government’s inaction. Sheku’s death has been met with resounding silence from Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP politicians. Not one single SNP MP or MSP has spoken out against Police Scotland’s handling of the case. As our representative said in addressing the march, ‘If they think we will accept their silence and inaction, then the only ones in a state of "excited delirium" are Police Scotland and the SNP! '
Following public pressure the family will now meet with Stephen House, Head of Police Scotland who recently announced he would be stepping down from his post a few months amidst a catalogue of police blunders. The campaign continues to demand answers! The 6 September demonstration must be the start, not the end, of something. Sheku Bayoh’s name must ring out on every street in Scotland! Otherwise, who will be next? Police Scotland carried out 500,000 stop and searches last year…will another one go wrong? We say loud and clear to Police Scotland and the SNP: Not one more death in custody! Justice for Sheku Bayoh NOW!’