The family of Rashan Charles has condemned the investigation into his death as “flawed” after a jury this week ruled it was accidental.
Twenty-year-old Charles died in hospital on 22 July last year following a police chase.
CCTV footage of his arrest in Dalston was widely circulated on social media, and shows a police officer throwing him to the ground.
A post-mortem revealed that Charles suffered a cardiac arrest, “most likely” caused by him swallowing a mix of caffeine and paracetamol wrapped in plastic, which was later removed from his throat.
An inquest into the father-of-one’s death concluded at St Pancras Coroner’s Court on 20 June with a jury ruling it an accident, and finding the arresting officer’s actions to be a “justified use of force”.
Charles’ relatives released a statement following the verdict which questioned the integrity of the investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).
They say the police’s refusal to admit any responsibility sets community relations back by generations, and vowed to continue their quest for answers.
Charles’ death sparked mass protests in Hackney last year.
They said: “We believe the IOPC investigation was flawed from the outset. We were left out of key decisions, evidence was excluded, police worn video missing and time frames manipulated.
“This felt to be a predetermined process by the IOPC, the Metropolitan Police and the CPS.”
The family says submissions from their lawyer were “overturned in court and evidence dismissed”, but added: “It is important we afford due respect to the jury who had to make a decision based on the limited evidence and confines put upon them.”
They added that two expert witnesses had 75 years combined service in the Metropolitan Police, with one still serving, saying: “This appears to us neither objective, independent or impartial.”
The statement concludes: “We are not adversaries of the police. This is about the conduct of individual police officers. However, the absence of admission of any responsibility does not stall community relations by weeks or years, but sets it back generations.
“This part of the flawed system is over, our work to receive answers continues.”
Commenting on the inquest’s findings, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Richard Martin of the Metropolitan Police 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.
“The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) must now take time to consider the detail of the narrative and any recommendations the Coroner may make in her subsequent report.
“If there is learning to take forward for the Met as a whole we will take action where we need to.”
Martin added: “Mr Charles’ death has of course had an impact on the community and local police ward officers have been working hard to address any concerns and ensure they are visible and available to offer reassurance. That work continues.”
Since Charles’ death, the MPS has suspended the use of mouth searches, pending a review into the tactic.
Responding to Wednesday’s verdict, Hackney Mayor Philip Glanville and community safety chief Caroline Selman said in a joint statement: “Rashan’s death was a tragedy that was felt across the community, and our thoughts remain with his family and friends at what must be a very difficult time for them.
“We would like to pay tribute to the dignity his family have demonstrated throughout.
“We know a lot of people were affected by Rashan’s death and outreach youth workers from the Council and the voluntary sector continue to be available in schools, youth hubs and other youth centres, for any young people who have been affected.”
It is understood that the IOPC’s investigation into Charles’ death is complete, and that the findings will be released in the near future.