Family’s anger as jury finds Rashan Charles death was accidental
Mr Charles died in hospital after he was chased by a police officer into a shop in Dalston and restrained.
The family of Rashan Charles has branded an inquest a farce after a jury found his death after being detained by police was an accident following a justified use of force.
Mr Charles, 20, died in hospital in the early hours of July 22 last year shortly after he was chased by an officer into a shop in Dalston, east London, and tackled to the ground before being restrained.
A “golf ball-sized” package, later found to contain a mixture of caffeine and paracetamol, was removed from his throat by paramedics who attended the scene.
A jury of three women and seven men returned a narrative verdict on Wednesday, finding Mr Charles died of a cardiac arrest and upper airway obstruction by a foreign body during a period of restraint.
Reading their conclusions, Coroner Mary Hassell said: “Rashan’s death was an accident, which occurred by virtue of deliberate human actions on the part of Rashan, the police officer who chased him and a civilian bystander, which unexpectedly and inadvertently led to the death of Rashan.”
The jury found the officer’s restraint was a “justified use of force”, but said he didn’t follow Met Police protocol by taking “immediate and appropriate action in the face of a medical emergency”, and had not managed the involvement of the civilian bystander.
But the jury said the omissions did not make a difference to Mr Charles’s death, adding: “Rashan’s life was not salvageable at a point prior to which the medical emergency was readily identifiable.”
Friends and family members had to wait outside the court as they awaited the verdict, while uniformed police officers and marked cars were positioned around the building.
Speaking to the Press Association before it was returned, Mr Charles’ great uncle, retired Met Chief Inspector Rod Charles, 54, said he had no faith in the inquest process, which had “descended into farce”.
He said the jury had been “shackled” by the coroner, who had removed all “pejorative” options.
“This inquest, I’ve said from day one, is a farce,” he said. “I have due respect for the jury… but I have rafts and waves of concerns with the process.”
Mr Charles, who has more than 30 years’ experience in the Met, said: “I have had to listen to implausible evidence at times, and at times downright lies.”
He also criticised the use of expert witnesses, who have years of experience working for the Met Police, claiming their evidence was “not impartial and not objective”.
Mr Charles said: “I will not stop with this case while I’m still breathing,” adding that the family would pursue all further legal options.
The incident sparked protests in the area and a probe by the watchdog now known as the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).
The Metropolitan Police officers involved in the detention were granted anonymity at an inquest at St Pancras Coroner’s Court, where they were known as BX47 and BX48 as they gave evidence from behind a huge black curtain.
The Met Police constable who detained Mr Charles, known only as BX47, has been on restricted duties, the force said.
He told the inquest how he had feared Mr Charles had a weapon, having chased him into the shop after he was seen running from a dark-coloured Ford Focus which he believed was suspicious.
He said that following a struggle he used a “seatbelt” hold to take Mr Charles to the floor where he then tried to get him to open his mouth, first by pressing his jaw and then by pushing on his abdomen.
Under questioning, the officer said he did not follow parts of his first aid training when dealing with the incident and admitted he probably should have called for an ambulance sooner.
Asked why he had not asked Mr Charles if he was choking, or deemed him to be an immediate medical emergency and called an ambulance, BX47 said: “That would probably be that I was not aware he was choking.
“He was not exhibiting the signs I would have been looking for, which all made the situation harder to gauge.”
His fellow officer, who was referred to only as BX48, said she arrived on the scene shortly after BX47 had called for back-up and found Mr Charles was still breathing and had a pulse.
The qualified police medic, who is working on full duties, said she would not have done anything differently, after using an oropharyngeal airway – a plastic tube – to try and help Mr Charles breathe before starting CPR.
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) took no further action against one officer after considering a common assault charge following a referral from the IOPC.
Mr Charles’ family said they have asked the CPS to review the decision.
The Met’s Deputy Assistant Commissioner Richard Martin, who is responsible for professionalism, said: “The death of anyone after involvement with police is a matter of deep regret and our thoughts and sympathies remain with all those affected.
“Having listened to all the evidence, the jury found that the officer that day lawfully and justifiably apprehended and restrained Mr Charles.
“When it became apparent Mr Charles was in difficulty, first aid and CPR was carried out but nothing the officers could have done would have saved his life.”