Who was Rashan Charles?
Rashan Jermaine Charles was a 20 year old who lived in the borough of Hackney. He was described as a family man. He had a daughter who was four months away from turning two and was the eldest of seven siblings. He had good relations with his cousins and his grandfather who lives in Grenada. Rashan had plans to visit him and the rest of his family in Grenada before he died. He had a passion for football and was loved by all his family and friends.
On saturday 22 July 2017, Rashan was a passenger in a car that was pulled over by the TSG police officer BX47. He was pursued by the officer into a convenience store, where the police officer threw him onto the floor, landed heavily on top of him, then subjected him to prolonged restraint. The horrific video shows the police officer putting Rashan in a headlock and reaching into his mouth whilst he was clearly struggling to breathe. A member of the public joins in the restraint to support the officer to put Rashan in cuffs, at which point he becomes limp and unresponsive. Rashan Charles had sadly died in the shop.
What was the legal implication?
The officer and the member of the public involved were granted anonymity. The officer is known as “BX47” and the member of the public is “Witness 1”. Two pieces of important body-cam footage were found to be missing, either unrecorded or deleted. The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) found that while officer BX47 “had made some mistakes”, he was not guilty of misconduct. Rashan Charles, like other black men who have died whilst in police custody, was branded as a ‘gang member,’ who was supposedly known to the police (this was later proven to be false).
The officer was cleared of misconduct. The investigation concluded that BX47 may have breached the police standard of professional behaviour regarding detention and restraint of Rashan, as well as how he dealt with Rashan’s medical emergency. The CPS took 6 months and concluded that they would not charge BX47 on the basis that, “it would not be possible to prove to the required standard that the force used by the officer on Rashan was unlawful”. BX47 was not fired and remains a police officer although on “restricted duties”. In a way, the verdict implies that Rashan was responsible for his own death.
If you want to find out more about other victims of police and state violence in the UK, click here.
The proportion of BAME deaths in custody where restraint is a feature is over two times greater than it is in other deaths in custody. The proportion of BAME deaths in custody where use of force is a feature is over two times greater than it is in other deaths in custody. The proportion of BAME deaths in custody where mental health-related issues are a feature is nearly two times greater than it is in other deaths in custody.