Sheku Bayoh’s lawyer blasts authorities for ‘dishonesty, racism and incompetence’

The police, their watchdog and the Crown Office operated an “unholy trinity of dishonesty, racism and incompetence” it has been claimed ahead of the opening of an inquiry into the death of a Black man who died after being restrained by officers.

Sheku Bayoh, a 31-year-old trainee gas engineer, died in May 2015 while being held by officers who were responding to a call in Kirkcaldy, Fife.

As an inquiry into his death opened on Tuesday, the Bayoh family solicitor, Aamer Anwar, challenged the police officers involved to give a full testimony if they had nothing to hide.

The public inquiry, chaired by lord Bracadale, is set to examine the circumstances leading up to the incident, and the following management process and investigation into the death.

Sheku Bayoh death
Sheku Bayoh died in police custody in 2015 (Sheku Bayoh family/PA)

It will also look to establish the role the father-of-two’s race may have played in his death.

Read on...

“Dishonest, racism and incompetence”

Anwar said the inquiry would have never happened had it had not been for the “courage and perseverance of Sheku’s loved ones who have refused to walk away, be silenced, bullied or patronised”. He told a press conference:

Over the years, it has become clear to the family that the police, Pirc (the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner), and Crown Office, has operated an unholy trinity of dishonesty, racism and incompetence, betraying the word justice.

Kadi Johnson (Mr Bayoh’s sister) has no doubt that the way Sheku or her family were treated by the justice system would not have happened had Sheku been white, their treatment was compounded by repeated attacks from those who remain in a child-like denial about the existence of racism in policing today.

Kadi has described Skeku as Scotland’s George Floyd, but taking the knee and Black Lives Matter will mean nothing if Scotland fails to support justice for Sheku.

Anwar added:

In less than 50 seconds of the first police officers arriving, Sheku Bayoh was brought to the ground, he was handcuffed and retrained with leg and ankle cuffs, and would never get up again, losing consciousness and dying.

As Kadi said when they put her brother’s lifeless body in the ambulance, he was still shackled like a slave, with over 24 separate injuries, cuts, lacerations, bruises and a broken rib.

Within minutes, the process of criminalising, smearing and stereotyping began to enforce an image of a mad and dangerous black man, wielding a knife and with stereotypical characteristics of extraordinary strength in an attempt to blame Sheku for his own death, but he was unarmed and never deserved to die.

“I hope his name does not fade from memory”

No charges have been brought because of his death, but Anwar said the family felt if the police officers involved had nothing to hide they had “nothing to fear from coming and giving a full and frank testimony to the inquiry”.

He said the “real test of this inquiry” would be “whether this country acts to ensure that real change takes place in an unaccountable, all powerful justice system”. He continued:

Sadly, Sheku is not by any means to first man to die in police custody but, if anything, I hope that his name does not fade from memory and that one day the name of Sheku leaves us a legacy that his children can be proud of.

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us