POLICE told the family of a man who died in their custody five different accounts of what happened following his death, it has been claimed.
Sheku Bayoh, 31, died on Sunday following a police incident in Kirkcaldy during which a female officer was also injured.
It’s extremely important that a thorough, fully resourced and independent investigation should now take place.Solicitor Aamer Anwar
It is believed Mr Bayoh, a father of two, was struck with a baton and pepper-sprayed before being detained by police.
The Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (PIRC) has appealed for witnesses who were in the town’s Hayfield Road between 7am and 8am as it begins to look into the circumstances surrounding the death.
Solicitor Aamer Anwar, who is representing Mr Bayoh’s family, said it was “unacceptable” that relatives had been given five different versions of events from police officers and had been told things which were “simply untrue”.
Following a meeting with the PIRC yesterday, Mr Anwar said: “What we said to them is that it’s unacceptable for Sheku Bayoh’s family who are grief-stricken and heartbroken to be given several different versions of events from police officers. The question they will need to answer is why this is so.
“It’s extremely important that a thorough, fully resourced and independent investigation should now take place. No-one should pre-judge that inquiry.”
Police Scotland released a short statement following the incident on Sunday in which it described the death as a “tragic set of circumstances”.
The force has since declined to comment following the commencement of the PIRC investigation, and the condition of the injured female officer is unknown.
Mr Bayoh, who came to Scotland from Sierra Leone, worked for British Gas and lived with his partner, Collette Bell, and their three-month-old son, Isaac. He has another son to a previous partner.
The cause of his death is currently unknown.
Mr Anwar said Mr Bayoh’s family would meet Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland next week to discuss the case after the Crown Office instructed the PIRC to carry out an investigation.
A spokeswoman for the PIRC said: “The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) has directed the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner to carry out an independent investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of 31-year-old Sheku Ahmed Tejan Bayoh in Kirkcaldy. He had been detained by police shortly before his death.
“A report on the PIRC’s findings will be submitted to the COPFS in due course.”
A spokesman for Police Scotland declined to comment.