The family of Rashan Charles, the young black man who died after a police pursuit in Hackney, say they “do not understand” the decision not to prosecute the Metropolitan Police officer investigated over his death.
The 20-year-old father died on 22 July last year, after he had been pursued by police into a shop on Kingsland Road, Dalston.
CCTV images showed an officer struggling with him on the floor before he was restrained and handcuffed. Within 70 minutes of his arrest, Charles was dead.
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) announced last week that the officer would face no criminal charges because “the evidential test for a prosecution for common assault is not met.”
His death sparked protests outside Stoke Newington police station and clashes with riot police in Kingsland Road.
His family are calling for the officer involved to face a trial. In a statement they said the footage “seems to show an unnecessary use of force. For there to be public confidence in policing we call for due process in the form of a criminal trial.”
Last month the police watchdog, the Independent Office for Police Conduct, said that a post mortem showed that Charles had “most likely” died because he had tried to swallow a package that blocked his airway, causing his heart to stop.
Previously the IOPC had said officers had attempted to remove what turned out to be a package of caffeine and paracetamol wrapped in cellophane from Charles’ mouth or throat after he was restrained.
The IOPC said a pathologist found “no other significant injuries to the head, neck or torso that would suggest prolonged or excessive restraint in the lead up to his death”.
In a statement the watchdog said it still had to conduct a “full review of all evidence gathered to date, including body-worn video from 10 officers including the one involved in the restraint” in the case.
The family of Rashan Charles said they “do not understand the CPS’ decision not to prosecute this officer for even a low level common assault. The CCTV shows a police officer taking very forcible hold of Rashan from behind, putting him to the ground and handcuffing him.”
They said they have still not been told the reason why Charles was stopped.
“We are aware that the IOPC has also raised concerns about police training on mouth searches, but this should not detract from the question of whether this officer acted lawfully, and if not, whether this played a part in Rashan’s untimely death.”
Carolynn Gallwey, the family’s lawyer, said: “The family’s focus remains on establishing why it has been decided that this officer’s use of force was justified and proportionate, and on fully exploring whether this played a role in Rashan’s death.”
Deborah Coles, director of Inquest, a charity that has been supporting the family, said: “The routine lack of criminal action following police deaths is the single greatest source of anger and pain for families who expect and demand a system capable of delivering justice and accountability.”