Rashan Charles

Rashan Charles died from a sudden heart attack ‘most likely’ caused by him trying to swallow a plastic package, the Independent Office of Police Complaints (IOPC) has revealed.

The 20-year-old passed away in hospital on 22 July last year, just hours after a police chase.

CCTV footage of Charles’ arrest shows a Metropolitan Police officer throwing him to the ground.

A plastic package containing caffeine and paracetamol was later removed from the youngster’s throat.

The Crown Prosecution Service yesterday announced that the officer who restrained Charles would not face criminal charges.

The IOPC continues to investigate the circumstances surrounding his death, and today revealed the results of the post-mortem in a statement.

Part of it read: “Firstly, we referred a file to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) last month to consider whether the officer involved in Mr Charles’ restraint may have committed common assault by continuing to restrain Mr Charles after he became unwell.

“The CPS confirmed last week that no further action will be taken against the officer on that matter due to insufficient evidence for there to be a realistic prospect of conviction.

“Secondly, the final post-mortem results for Mr Charles have been received and indicate that Mr Charles sadly died of a sudden cardiac arrest brought on by a blocked upper airway.

“This was, in the pathologist’s view, most likely caused by him attempting to swallow a plastic package that subsequent forensic testing showed contained a mixture of caffeine and paracetamol.

“The pathologist identified no other significant injuries to the head, neck or torso of Mr Charles that would suggest prolonged or excessive restraint in the lead-up to his death.”

The IOPC also said the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) has “suspended searching mouths by force due to the associated risks and the College of Policing will be conducting a review of its guidance”.

The watchdog’s regional director Jonathan Green said: “It is vital we establish all of the circumstances surrounding Rashan’s death and our comprehensive investigation continues in advance of his inquest to be held later this year.

“However, it is clearly in the public interest that we highlight the disparity in the approach to mouth searches to the police service at the earliest opportunity and I greatly welcome the MPS decision to immediately suspend forcible mouth searches while further reviews of the policy are undertaken.”

An inquest into Charles’ death is set to start on 4 June.

Support us

The coronavirus outbreak meant that the Hackney Citizen was unable to print a monthly newspaper for three months.

We're grateful that we have since been able to resume printing. This would not have been possible without the generosity of our readers, whose donations kept the paper from disappearing completely at a distressing time for residents.

A huge thank you to everyone who gave their time and money to support us through the lockdown, and to those who continue to do so as we slowly recover from the dramatic fall in advertising revenues, on top of the existing challenges threatening the future of local journalism.

A one-off donation or a regular contribution from anyone who can afford it will help our small team keep the newspaper in print and the website running in the coming months and years.

Find out how you can donate.

Thank you for your support, and stay safe.

The Hackney Citizen team