It’s just days into 2021, and already a Black man has died after being in police custody

Mohamud Mohammed Hassan
Eliza Egret

This is 24-year-old Mohamud Mohammed Hassan. On the evening of Saturday 9 January, Mohamud died suddenly, after being released from police custody earlier that day.

Mohamud had been arrested on Friday night and was released without charge on Saturday morning. Witnesses say he had been severely beaten, with blood on his clothes and bruises all over his body. According to a close friend, when Mohamud arrived at his home, he said:

Look fam, the police have beat the shit out of me.

Mohamud’s cousins said:

He told our family members that he was tasered twice and through images they could see bite marks all over his body. Additionally, he stated that he was brutally kicked in the head and suffered injuries to his face and knee- it was dislocated, and he struggled to walk. Witnesses say that he was covered in blood with significant injuries to his mouth.

He received no medical care.

According to Lee Jasper, vice-chair of BAME Lawyers 4 Justice, Mohamud slept for a few hours after he was released, but when a friend tried to wake him later he was unresponsive. He was given CPR by a paramedic, but was later declared dead.

According to Jasper, at least ten police cars then arrived at Mohamud’s home, blocking off any entry to the property. Jasper said:

Mohamud was afforded no privacy nor dignity whilst he lay dead on the kitchen floor. The family attended his home but was refused entry or sight of the body by Cardiff police.

The family felt they were poorly treated by the officers in attendance and were left totally in the dark. Bizarrely Mohamud was left on the kitchen floor until 6.45 am Sunday before being removed.

Mohamud’s family needs urgent answers

Mohamud’s aunt Zainab Hassan said:

He didn’t have these wounds when he was arrested and when he came out of Cardiff Bay police station, he had them.

Nothing we do is going to bring him back but we will not rest for a second until we have justice.

Mohamud’s cousins said:

Our aunt is devastated by the loss of her eldest son. We will not allow Mohamud to become another statistic. Black men cannot continue to be treated as second class citizens by police. His death was avoidable as were so many others. Mohamud was not the first victim of police brutality but we will try and make sure that he is the last.

A generic response by the police

The Canary contacted South Wales Police, asking the force to explain whether Mohamud received his injuries while in their care. We also asked the police to explain their conduct when allegedly surrounding Mohamud’s house after he had died, preventing his family from getting to him. We asked them to clarify why Mohamud was only moved from his kitchen floor the next morning. We also wanted assurance that the police would examine the bodycam footage from the time that Mohamud was in custody.

South Wales police declined to answer these individual questions, and instead directed us to the generic response which they sent out to all journalists.  The force said:

His death has been referred to the Independent Office for Police Conduct as death after police contact and we are arranging the deployment of a family liaison officer to Mr Hassan’s family.

As part of the South Wales Police investigation CCTV and Body Worn Video has already been, and will continue to be, examined. This will assist in establishing and understanding the events that took place.

Early findings by the force indicate no misconduct issues and no excessive force.

According to the police, a post-mortem examination is due to take place on Tuesday 12 February.

Fight structural racism

Mohamud’s family have launched a crowdfunder to help them try to get justice and pay for legal fees, as well as for the funeral. Mohamud’s cousins said:

A case has been opened however to ensure justice we are also looking into opening a private case of our own.

It’s vital that Mohamud’s family gets real answers, and that if police officers were responsible for the severe injuries that Mohamud received, they are held to account. The news of Mohamud’s death didn’t make front page mainstream media headlines. It was buried beneath news about Boris Johnson and coronavirus. If it had been a white person who died from injuries after being held by the police, this would surely have been plastered all over the front pages.

According to Inquest:

people of black, Asian and minority ethnicity die disproportionately as a result of use of force or restraint by the police, raising serious questions of institutional racism as a contributory factor in their deaths.

A protest is being held outside Cardiff Bay police station at 3pm on Tuesday 12 January. As his family said, don’t let Mohamud become just another statistic. Say his name and demand justice.

Featured image via Lee Jasper

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