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From The Socialist newspaper, 8 August 2012

Sean Rigg inquest: damning verdict for police

Michael Wrack

The inquest into the death of Sean Rigg has returned a damning verdict for the police. The jury found the police used "unsuitable and unnecessary force" which contributed "more than minimally" to his death.

Sean's history of mental health problems was known to the police and yet when they picked him up, he was not taken to hospital nor was any mental health professional contacted.

He was instead held down, face down with his legs bent back, for eight minutes in the back of a police van. When he was brought into Brixton police station he began losing consciousness, which the jury found the police responded to with a lack of urgency. He died, surrounded by police officers, due to problems caused by restricted blood circulation and lack of oxygen. Sean Rigg had no history of any related health problems.

The inquest has also resulted in the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPPC) launching an investigation into the evidence given by one of the police officers.

Sergeant Paul White was found to have lied about checking on Sean while he was being restrained. White admitted this was not true after CCTV evidence contradicting his statement was shown. Sean Rigg's brother Wayne was quoted in the Guardian as saying his family "have little faith in the IPCC, but now demand a fair and just outcome on this issue... [including] criminal charges being brought against Sergeant White."

Not a single conviction

The Rigg family are right to have little faith in the IPCC. Since it was set up in 2004, 241 people have died in police custody (473 have died after any police contact). Not a single officer has ever been convicted in relation to these cases.

The inquest verdict was given one year on, almost to the day, of the shooting of Mark Duggan by police, which partly led to last summer's riots. His family are still waiting for answers as to why he was killed. Less than a month ago PC Simon Harwood was incredibly found not guilty in the Ian Tomlinson case.

The IPCC should be scrapped and replaced by a truly independent organisation to hold the police to account for their actions. This should be controlled by working class people, the most frequent victims of police brutality, through their representatives in the trade unions and local community groups.

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In The Socialist 8 August 2012:


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