Inquest into death of black man who died after being restrained by Lewisham police set to begin

By Grainne Cuffe, Local Democracy Reporter

The full inquest into the death of a black man who died after being restrained by police in Lewisham is set to begin next week.

Kevin Clarke, 30, pictured, who suffered from schizophrenia with paranoia, was having a mental health crisis on March 9, 2018 when he came across Met Police officers.

The officers retrained him before he “became unwell” – he was sent to hospital, but was later pronounced dead.

The inquest, opening on Monday, will investigate whether the actions of police contributed to or caused Mr Clarke’s death.

Mr Clarke’s family said he was a “loving, trustworthy, charismatic person who was seen by many as a gentle giant”.

At the time of his death, he was staying in assisted living, and had previously experienced mental health crises which led to him being sectioned.

Mr Clarke’s mother, Wendy Clarke, said his death has been “devastating” for his family and friends.

She said: “We need a detailed and accurate account of the circumstances of his death, including the use of force, medical emergency assessment and response.

“We hope that this inquest will provide us with answers we and the community need.”

The case comes at a time when the disproportionate use of force against black men is being scrutinised across the world.

Anita Sharma, head of casework at charity Inquest, said: “At a time of national and international focus on race and policing, it is vital this inquest allows for the utmost scrutiny of the circumstances of Kevin’s death.

“Too many black men have died following use of force by police in the UK, while successive reviews show our criminal justice and mental health systems fail black and minoritised people.”

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