Kevin Clarke: Family respond to gross misconduct decision on Met officers involved in restraint related death 3 August 2022 Three Metropolitan Police Service officers will face proceedings for gross misconduct or gross incompetence in relation to the restraint related death of Kevin Clarke in 2018, the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) have announced today. This follows a reinvestigation by the police watchdog. Their initial investigation failed to identify any criminal or misconduct issues with police actions. Kevin Clarke, a 35 year old Black man, was experiencing a mental health crisis when he died following restraint by Metropolitan Police officers in Lewisham, South London, on 9 March 2018. During the restraint, which lasted 33 minutes, he told officers “I can’t breathe” and “I’m going to die”. An inquest in 2020 found Kevin’s death was contributed to by “inappropriate” restraint by police. Two police constables will now face gross misconduct hearings, and one police sergeant will be subject to gross incompetence proceedings. The IOPC also announced today that another police constable should be subject to the reflective practice review process. However, the IOPC decided not to send a file of evidence for the Crown Prosecution Service to consider any criminal charges for any of the officers involved in Kevin’s death. The Metropolitan Police Service must now arrange for the misconduct proceedings for the officers. If found guilty, the sanctions range from written warnings to dismissal without notice. Research by INQUEST found that Black people are seven times more likely to die than White people following the use of restraint by police. Yet the investigation systems fail to address racism or enable justice or accountability. Wendy Strachan, the mother of Kevin Clarke, said: “We are relieved that the IOPC has finally come to a decision following the conclusion of its reopened investigation into Kevin’s death. This process has taken nearly two years and our family is emotionally and physically exhausted with the delays and constant battle with the IOPC. We wouldn’t have had to go through this painful wait if the IOPC had carried out a proper investigation the first time round. We are grateful to our lawyers at Saunders Law who had to fight for the IOPC to re-open the investigation, despite the inquest jury concluding that the actions of some of the police officers contributed to Kevin’s death. We had hoped that more officers would face misconduct proceedings, but it is positive that more officers will face misconduct proceedings this time than following the IOPC’s original investigation.” Deborah Coles, Director of INQUEST, said: “Kevin Clarke was in mental health crisis. He needed care and compassion and instead was subject to excessive, inhumane restraint by police which contributed to his death. It was the robust scrutiny at the inquest that exposed this, and revealed serious concerns about the initial investigation undertaken by the police watchdog. Without the pressure on the IOPC by the family’s lawyers to review the inquest evidence, this misconduct decision would not have come about. Once again, we question whether the IOPC can do the job we need it to do to hold the police to account for criminality and wrongdoing. Five years on, we must not forget the toll that these protracted processes and long struggles for justice and accountability have on bereaved people. We must now see urgent progress on the misconduct hearings, and accountability for all the officers involved in Kevin’s death.” Cyrilia Davies Knight, the lead solicitor for the family of Kevin Clarke, said: “It was important that the IOPC re-opened its original investigation as evidence heard during Kevin’s inquest was inadequately considered during its original investigation. It was also important that the IOPC reevaluated the behaviour of the attending police officers, in light of the jury’s damning conclusions in Kevin’s inquest. However, the length of time that Kevin’s family have had to wait for this outcome is unacceptable. The ongoing delays continue to have an emotional impact on them. These delays are systemic and need to be urgently addressed if bereaved families are going to have any faith in the IOPC.” ENDS NOTES TO EDITORSFor further information, interview requests and to note your interest, please contact Lucy McKay on 020 7263 1111 or [email protected]. A photo of Kevin is available here. INQUEST has been working with the family of Kevin Clarke since his death. The family is represented by INQUEST Lawyers Group members Cyrilia Davies Knight and Ben Curtis of Saunders Law and Professor Leslie Thomas QC and Ifeanyi Odogwu of Garden Court Chambers. The INQUEST caseworker is Anita Sharma. In 2021, Kevin’s death was highlighted by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in an international report on racism and policing.