An inquiry will be little comfort to the loved ones of yet another Black victim of the Met Police
As police violence claims yet another Black life, news of an inquiry into the incident will be of little comfort to the victim’s loved ones.
In the early hours of 12 April, Met Police officers tasered a man threatening to jump off a balcony. He fell down several floors, sustaining injuries which led to his death later that day. The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) has reportedly opened an investigation into the incident.
Report in Peckham aprox 2am; Man threatening to jump from apartment balcony. Police officers present for aprox 1hr, ‘persuading’ the man to come inside. Then they tasered him & he fell several floors from the balcony. Causing life-threatening injuries which he died of in hospital https://t.co/ST9u6DtP4e
— Rebecca Almudévar (@RAlmudevar) April 19, 2023
Inquiry begins after man Tasered by police falls to his death
Although the man has yet to be formally identified, a spokesperson for the Met said they thought the victim is Black
By @S_Fleary1 https://t.co/G684q31uTf pic.twitter.com/YWq1rDKvlA
— The Voice Newspaper (@TheVoiceNews) April 19, 2023
When will Black lives matter?
A Met Police spokesperson has confirmed that they believe the victim was Black. The incident has understandably made raw the wounds of communities already devastated by police violence. As social commentator Michael Morgan starkly noted, “we’re marked for death”:
Enquiries continue. However, the ethnicity of the man who died is believed to be Black, a spokesperson for the Met police said.
Black people meet the statistical description when we encounter the institutionally racist Met police…we’re marked for death.
— Michael Morgan (@mikewhoatv) April 17, 2023
A Black man was about to jump off a balcony. Instead of helping him, they tasered him and he fell several floors down and died in hospital. You probably didn't hear about it. His family haven't at the time of this article. While officers are walking free. https://t.co/rb5coC7psy
— Zainab (@ZaiNoted) April 19, 2023
The African, Caribbean and Asian Lawyers For Justice Twitter account called for the officers in question to be suspended:
Black man dead at the hands of @LambethMPS Why taser a man teetering on the edge of the a high rise balcony? The PC’s involved appears to have lied according to @policeconduct Suspend these officers now. Failure to do so indicates no change at the Met. https://t.co/9Hkvp1KtgI
— African, Caribbean and Asian Lawyers For Justice (@BameFor) April 17, 2023
Although the Casey Review into the Met Police came out in March, highlighting the force’s institutional racism, this incident took place just weeks later. One Twitter user picked out a mention of “the disproportionate use of Tasers” in particular against Black people in the report:
LOUISE CASEY has some amount of texts about TASERS.
Extracts are cited here
"… the disproportionate use of Tasers and batons on Black Londoners and the overuse of intrusive searches on Black children…"
— KHOODEELAAR! (@khoodeelaar) April 17, 2023
Met Police keep being racist
From descriptions of the scenario, it’s safe to assume that the victim was experiencing a mental health crisis, which raises several questions. Firstly, why are police called to deal with people experiencing mental health crises when they clearly have no idea how to do so safely? Second, why do police turn up to these situations armed with tasers?
And perhaps most basic of all: how can anyone possibly think it’s a good idea to taser someone stood on a balcony ledge, knowing the likelihood of them falling to their death? It seems like this would require a special sort of disdain for the person they’re ostensibly there to help.
The combination of institutionally racist police and Black people in mental health crises has been demonstrably deadly. Just two of the more recent examples are Godrick Osei and Oladeji Omishore. As the charity Inquest tweeted:
Once again we see the fatal consequences of the police being first responders to people in mental health crisis and the use of force against black men.
It is clear from previous deaths that the use of Tasers & force is prioritised over care & compassion.https://t.co/77vTDZCuE2
— INQUEST (@INQUEST_ORG) April 18, 2023
Inquest director Deborah Coles said:
This death also raises questions about community mental health services, and whether steps may have been taken to prevent a crisis of this nature. This comes less than a year after the death of Oladeji Omishore, who fell from Chelsea Bridge after being Tasered by police. We stand with all the families bereaved in similar circumstances in asking: when will this end?
Too broken to fix
The systemic problems with police in the UK in general, and the Met Police in particular, have now been documented so extensively that it should be obvious they’re beyond reform. As the Canary‘s Maryam Jameela wrote in March:
Here at the Canary we’ve reported time and time again when Met police officers strip search children, further criminalise Black and Brown communities, have officers that rape and murder, and are placed in special measures. All of these incidents are not evidence that the Met needs reform. They’re evidence that the Met is functioning exactly as intended – criminalising vulnerable communities.
And when covering Oladeji’s death in June 2022, Sophia Purdy-Moore wrote for the Canary:
One thing’s for certain: the police don’t protect the public. They only protect themselves. We must rally together to defend our rights and protect our communities from all forms of state violence and authoritarianism.
Formal inquiries can be an important tool for holding an institution accountable. However, they presume that the institution under scrutiny has the potential to accept accountability – and then act accordingly. Yet from its record so far, the Met Police has shown no such potential.
We urgently need to do away with the myth that the police are a force for good and, moreover, that they can be relied upon to keep people safe. Until they’re dismantled as an institution, the lives of people from Black and other marginalised communities will remain at risk.
Featured image via Youtube screenshot/ 5 News
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