23 August 2022

Oladeji Omishore, known as Deji, died on 4 June 2022. The 41 year old fell into the River Thames following use of Taser by two Metropolitan Police Officers on Chelsea Bridge, whilst he was experiencing a mental health crisis.

His family have now given their first exclusive media interviews to The Guardian and Channel 4 News. They raise serious concerns about the systems for investigating police conduct and holding them to account.

The family are concerned that the officers involved in the incident on Chelsea Bridge are not yet being investigated for professional or criminal misconduct. The officers are being treated only as witnesses in the ongoing investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), not subjects of investigation. They remain on active duty.

Similar circumstances occurred in the investigation into the death Darren Cumberbatch in 2017, a Black man who died following excessive use of force by Warwickshire Police. Last month the IOPC announced they would be reinvestigating, five years on from the death, due to flaws in the initial investigation. This situation must not be repeated. 

There is currently no legal duty of candour which would require police officers to proactively cooperate in investigations into deaths. This contributes to a lack of accountability, particularly where officers involved are only treated as witnesses. INQUEST is part of the ongoing campaign for the Public Authorities (Accountability) Bill, known as Hillsborough Law, which would change that.

In a joint statement, the family said: “Like many people, we were shocked and deeply distressed by the video of Deji on Chelsea Bridge. He was clearly in mental health crisis. Yet instead of deescalating and offering compassion, the police officers shouted and used force against him. This seemed to only increase his fear and anguish. Now our beloved son, brother, and friend is gone.

It is incomprehensible to us that the officers seen in that video are not yet being investigated for any professional misconduct or criminal charges. This means they are essentially being treated as witnesses to the investigation, not subjects of it. They may not even be interviewed and their evidence might not be forcefully challenged until our lawyers get to cross examine the officers at the inquest. This is dysfunctional.

We understand that police are rarely suspended from duty following their involvement in contentious deaths in this country, and often do not even face conduct investigations. It is even rarer that they face criminal investigations. This does not look like a robust system capable of holding the police to account.

Since his death we have learnt about many other deaths like Deji’s. Many have been linked to the use of Tasers since their introduction in 2003. Despite the risks associated with multiple or sustained activations, they continue to be rolled out. Taser usage is disproportionately targeted at Black, vulnerable people, like my brother, with mental ill health and people with underlying health issues.

This is a real issue that needs to be addressed and raises deeper questions and concerns about the long history of systemic racism within the Metropolitan police. It serves as a painful reminder of how far we still need to go in terms of fostering an inclusive society, where race is not the trigger that leads to another Black person’s death or death of another human being, regardless of race.

We feel that the actions of the Metropolitan police officer amounted to excessive use of force, and for this the officer must be held accountable. We cannot bring our beloved Deji back, but we will fight to ensure that this never happens again to another human being, and we’ll continue to raise awareness and campaign for police accountability for a life tragically taken from us that can never be replaced.

Deji was so beloved. He was creative, funny, and caring. He loved music, singing, art, nature, and his local neighbourhood. He faced struggles with mental health but was working hard to improve his wellbeing. We have learned that our family now faces a long struggle for truth, justice, and accountability. We are committed to fighting for that, not only in Deji’s name but alongside all the other bereaved families like ours.”

Follow the family campaign @justicefordeji.

Deborah Coles, Director of INQUEST, said: “This is the death of a Black man in obvious distress who was subjected to multiple Taser use. Misinformation and false narratives have already been placed in the public domain by the Metropolitan Police to justify the force used.

Bereaved families like Deji’s should not be forced to challenge the systems for responding to deaths, at a time when they are dealing with a profound loss in horrendous circumstances.

Deji’s death is part of a longstanding pattern of disproportionate use of force by police against Black men, particularly those in mental health crisis. It is in both the family and public interest that police officers are subject to robust investigation of the highest standard. They are public servants and must be held to account at an individual or corporate level when things go wrong, to protect the public from harm in the future.”

Kate Maynard of Hickman and Rose solicitors, who represent the family, said: The threshold to treat officers as subjects and declare a conduct investigation is low.  The IOPC only needed to consider there to be an indication that the officer may have committed a criminal offence or have behaved in a manner that would justify them facing disciplinary proceedings.

The failure of these officers to diligently exercise their duties and responsibilities and the excessive use of force are obvious potential disciplinary infringements for investigation. The failure to interview the officers as subjects of investigation, and to properly test their evidence under a misconduct notice, risks becoming a material flaw in the investigation, as happened in the case of Darren Cumberbatch.

Another example of where a decision was made at an early stage not to designate an officer as being the subject of a conduct investigation is the IOPC’s investigation of the police shooting of Sean Fitzgerald.  In that case it was two years before the IOPC then designated the police shooter as being the subject of a conduct investigation.

It is not surprising that bereaved families lack confidence in IOPC decision making when it doesn’t feel forthright or vigorous.”



For more information and photos contact Lucy McKay on [email protected]

INQUEST is working with the family of Oladeji Omishore following his death. The family is represented by INQUEST Lawyers Group members Kate Maynard and Helen Stone of Hickman & Rose Solicitors.

The IOPC are seeking information for their investigation from members of the public who witnessed the incident. Contact the IOPC on 0300 3035579 or email [email protected]

MISINFORMATION: A bystander video of the incident leading to Deji’s death was posted on social media and went viral. The Metropolitan Police then issued a press release, including misinformation that Deji had been “armed with a screwdriver”.

In fact, he had been unarmed and had a fire lighter which he used to light cigarettes. The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) have since been forced to correct the record. The police’s press release will form part of their independent investigation into Deji’s death.

TASERS: In August 2021, the Independent Office for Police Conduct published a Review of IOPC cases involving the use of Taser 2015-2020. This evidenced the disproportionate and inappropriate use of Taser against Black people and people with mental ill health. See media release.

DISPROPORTIONALITY: Analysis of official data showed that in the past 10 years 8% of those who died in custody were racialised as Black, despite representing only 3% of the population. See INQUEST data.

DARREN CUMBERBATCH: Darren Cumberbatch, a 32 year old Black man, died in hospital on 19 July 2017, nine days after excessive use of force against him by Warwickshire Police officers. This took place whilst he was experiencing a mental health crisis in a bail hostel in Nuneaton.

An inquest in 2019 found the police use of force against Darren, which ‘may have been excessive and avoidable’, contributed to his death. In July 2022, the IOPC admitted that there were material flaws in their original investigation into Darren’s death. They announced a rare decision to reinvestigate key elements.

HILLSBOROUGH LAW: Hillsborough Law, also known as the Public Authorities (Accountability) Bill, is the legacy project of the bereaved families and survivors of the Hillsborough disaster. The new law would:

  • Create a new legal duty of candour on public authorities and officials to tell the truth and proactively cooperate with official investigations and inquiries.
  • Ensure victims of disasters or state-related deaths are entitled to parity of legal representation during inquests and inquiries, meaning they are funded for lawyers, putting them on a level playing field with public bodies.

Learn more and watch the campaign launch here.