The Hackney police officers who restrained and arrested 20-year-old Rashan Charles on the night he died in a Dalston shop have been granted anonymity at the inquest into his death.
Charles, a father from Hackney, was chased on July 22 into a convenience store, Yours Locally, in Kingsland Road, Dalston and died within 70 minutes of his arrest.
CCTV footage later surfaced showing a police officer struggling with him on the floor, which the Independent Police Complaints Commission claimed was an attempt to remove what turned out to be a pill mixture of caffeine and paracetamol from his mouth.
At a hearing last week, Coroner Mary Hassel ruled that the officer shown in the footage and the second officer who later intervened will be able present their evidence at the inquest anonymously.
Both officers, who have not been suspended, claimed that they and their families would be at risk of attacks if their identities were to be made public. Although the coroner rejected their argument, anonymity was still granted.
As a result, the officer’s faces will not be visible to the public gallery and their names will not be revealed. Instead, they are to be referred to as ‘BX47′ and ‘BX48′.
Anonymity was also granted to the two witnesses present at the scene.
A spokesperson for the family of Rashan Charles said: “Although this is disappointing it was not unexpected. Our focus remains on the quality of the IPCC investigation of Rashan’s death and on ensuring that proper consideration is given to criminal charges. These officers will not be able to hide behind anonymity in the criminal courts.”
Coroner Mary Hassel said: “I am acutely aware that there already exists a lack of confidence by some in certain institutions, for example the police. However, on this occasion, although it is finely balanced, I am of the view that the screening of the two police officers at inquest, and the use of ciphers in place of their names, is necessary in the interests of justice.”
A few days after his death, many people, including friends and family of Charles, protested in Dalston and Stoke Newington, stating that he had been a victim of police brutality.
Jude Bunting, a legal representative for the family said: “the Black Lives Matter movement have taken this to heart.”
A spokesperson for Black Lives Matter UK told East London Lines: “The courts have repeatedly failed bereaved families and the wider public. It is therefore unsurprising that many of us greet the decision to grant anonymity to the two officers who restrained Rashan Charles with sadness, but no surprise. It shows that yet again the system works against justice.”
“We stand in solidarity with the Charles family and with the United Friend and Families Campaign in their struggle for justice.”
Charles was one of three young black men who have been seriously harmed following police contact in the past five months. On Wednesday, 15-year-old Terrell Decosta Jones-Burton suffered severe injuries after being detained in Bermondsey and in June, Edson Da Costa, 25, died six days after being restrained by police officers in Newham.
The full inquest into the death of Rashan Charles’ is scheduled to take place in June next year.