Family of tragic Sheku Bayoh to sue police for Â£2 million over '˜unlawful killing'
The family of a man who died in while in police custody say they have 'no confidence in the Scottish justice system' after revealing they will launch a seven-figure damages claim against the country's most senior officer.
Sheku Bayoh, who was 31, suffered more than thirty injuries after being detained by police in Kirkcaldy following reports he was carrying a knife in the town in May 2015.
Mr Bayoh, known to friends as ‘Sheik,’ died in Victoria Hospital around two hours later after officers used CS spray, pepper spray and batons to restrain him after he was reported to have struck PC Nicole Short.
The Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (PIRC) filed a report on his death in August 2016 after placing a number of officers on paid leave, however Sheku’s family have hit out at the length of time the investigation has taken with no criminal charges brought almost three years later.
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In a statement, Mr Bayoh’s family criticised the “cultural and institutional problems at Pirc,” adding they were “not sure the system is fit for purpose”.
It read: “It is very disappointing for us, the family, who started off with having faith in the Scottish system of justice but quickly recognised that organisations in the system are not working towards the goal of fairer Scottish justice for all.”
“In the era of 2018, we are looking back as far as 25 years ago to see which is better, then or now. Our brother lay dead with over 30 injuries and yet Scotland police fail to account how he got them.
“Pirc disappointed us so much that we are not sure if the organisation is fit for purpose.”
Mr Bayoh was arrested by police at the junction of Hayfield Road and Hendry Road in the Fife town on May 3, 2015 after members of the public reported a man carrying a knife in the street.
Nine officers detained Mr Bayoh at the scene, where floral tributes have since been left.
A procurator fiscal’s report gave his cause of death as “sudden death in a man intoxicated by MDMA (ecstasy) and alpha-Pyrrolidinopentiophenone (the drug Flakka) whilst being restrained”.
But Mr Bayoh was found with more than 20 facial cuts and bruises, petechial haemorrhages – a sign of asphyxiation – in his eyes, a fractured rib and grazing on his chest.
Two officers, PC Short and PC Alan Paton remain on paid leave, though it is reportedly unlikely either will be allowed to return to work.
Mr Bayoh’s former partner Collette Bell and son Isaac were among the family members to criticise the Pirc investigation.
A Sunday newspaper reported the family are now set to launch a court action for damages over what they call an ‘unlawful killing’.
The statement continued: “25 years on from the death of Stephen Lawrence we are still finding out that those institutions which operate in the field of investigating death in the community such as Pirc are still operating under the same culture.”
“With expectations that the Crown Office will be better as there was hope with the former Lord Advocate in which we saw more action, information and discussion with the family and community.
“The new Lord Advocate James Wolffe has shown us a different side of the crown office no progress, information or action. Justice delayed is Justice denied that is what we are getting from the New Lord Advocate.”
It finished: “We are sorry to say that we have no confidence in Scotland justice system anymore.”
“Our hope and that of the community for a fairer Scotland and justice for all is not a reality as it seems, it is only for people that do not look like us and Sheku.”
A spokesman for Pirc said: “Following a thorough and objective investigation of the circumstances of this case, the Commissioner submitted a detailed and extensive report to the Lord Advocate in August 2015. A further report containing evidence gathered from a number of expert witnesses was submitted in August 2016 and the PIRC has undertaken any additional enquiry requested by the COPFS.”
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