The family of Rashan Charles have described the Metropolitan Police’s decision not to suspend the officer involved in the young man’s death as “disappointing and concerning”.
The 20-year-old, who lived in south-west London, died after being apprehended by police in a shop in Dalston in June.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) announced last week that the police officer in question was under investigation for gross misconduct.
The police watchdog then said that the officer should be suspended, but the Met have instead decided to place him on restricted duties.
“This decision sends completely the wrong message about how seriously the Metropolitan Police take what happened to Rashan,” a statement from the Charles family said.
The family said that CCTV footage showed the “unprovoked use of a great deal of force on a young man”, who did not receive “safe and prompt care from the police”.
“We are disappointed and concerned that the simple reality of what is seen in the recording has not been translated into prompt and effective action by the police, CPS and IPCC: to suspend this officer and to investigate him as a suspect in possible criminal offences, as well as for gross misconduct,” the statement concluded.
— INQUEST (@INQUEST_ORG) September 20, 2017
A Met Police spokesman said the officer had not been suspended but instead placed on restricted duties, meaning he is removed from any work that involves direct contact with the public.
Commissioner Richard Martin, who made the decision, told the Press Association: “I fully understand the strength of public feeling about the tragic death of Rashan Charles in Hackney.”
He said that both the officer concerned and the Met had “fully co-operated with the IPCC”, whose recommendations to suspend the officer had been “carefully considered”.
“As always, the serving of a notice by the IPCC does not mean that misconduct has been proven against an officer,” he added.
The IPCC launched the gross miscondust investigation after analysing CCTV and body worn video evidence, as well as statements from the officer and other witnesses.
Pauline Pearce, a spokesperson for Hackey Liberal Democrats, who has been campaigning for justice for Charles and his family, said: “It is very serious that the police are not taking the advice of the IPCC in this matter.
“We are talking about an incident in which a young man died and so far even after other recent deaths following police contact, no officer has been suspended.”
She said the suspension would not imply any guilt but would simply “show the community that this matter is being taken seriously, especially now the IPCC are investigating for gross misconduct”.
“Given the tension in the community following the death of young Rash, the police need to realise that every move they make is being scrutinised,” she added.
An online petition calling for the officer to be suspended or resign has received almost 3,000 signatures.
The cause of death is currently unknown, but attempts were made to remove an object from Charles’ mouth or throat, which was later revealed to have contained a mixture of caffeine and paracetamol.
A peaceful demonstration took place on the streets of Hackney in the aftermath, but subsequent protests descended into violent clashes with police.
A pre-inquest review will take place on November 15 at Poplar Coroner’s Court, before the full inquest in front of a jury next June.