BY CALUM FRASER
The family of a man who died after he was restrained by the police are crowdfunding for £10,000 to pay for his funeral as they say they have been left unsupported by the authorities.
Kevin Clarke, 35, died on March 9 in a South London hospital after he had been detained by police in Catford.
Their actions “may amount to gross misconduct,” a police watchdog has said, and an investigation is currently under way to find out what happened.
The family have been reunited with Kevin’s body months after he died and they say they are outraged by the fact that they are not getting any help with the arrangements for the funeral, which was held on Friday.
Tellecia Strachen Clarke, Kevin’s sister, said: “We couldn’t even touch him after he died. Just to give him a hug and he gave the best hugs. We could only see him through a window.
“Then he was taken off for the post-mortem and the inquest and he belonged to the state then.
“Now we have his body back and we do not have any support to help us bury him.
“If a policeman dies on duty, do you think their family are left to foot the bill for their funeral?”
Kevin’s mother Wendy Clarke had dinner with Kevin the night before he died. The next day police arrived at her door to tell her that her son was dead.
She said: “It feels like someone has ripped my heart out. He is my first born. He would do anything for me.
“Every day I cry. Nothing can bring my son back.
“Nothing was too hard for Kevin to do for you, for anybody. He had such a love.”
Police were called by a member of the public to Polsted Road, Catford, at 2.20pm on Friday, March 9, after reports of a man seen attempting to gain access to some rear gardens.
Officers found a man who they said appeared to be suffering mental health problems.
Paramedics were then called and they took him to a South London hospital where he died a short time later.
Kevin had been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia.
Kevin’s cousin, Regina Bobb, said: “We have not received any support. That is one of the most frustrating things.
Police get automatic legal counsel, but we didn’t even know what our rights were initially.
“It took up to a week to realise we needed, or could get, legal representation, which delayed things from the outset.
This was a very confusing, hurtful and angry time for us and still is.”
The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) has launched a full investigation into the conduct of the officers involved on March 9.
They have taken statements from paramedics at the scene and examined footage from body cameras, which were on most of the Metropolitan Police personnel involved.
IOPC regional director Jonathan Green said: “Kevin Clarke died on Friday, March 9 and our thoughts remain with all of those affected by this tragic incident.
“Following a post-mortem conducted on March 20, the cause of Mr Clarke’s death remains under investigation and we continue to provide the pathologist with the evidence we have gathered to assist with the final post-mortem report.
“At this stage, we have established that the decisions made, and actions taken, to restrain Mr Clarke may be in breach of police professional standards and may amount to gross misconduct.
“This position will be kept under review as the investigation develops and it is important to stress that this does not necessarily mean that misconduct proceedings will follow.
“We have also established the MPS were called earlier in the day by staff at the assisted living accommodation where Kevin resided who were concerned with his welfare.
“That previous contact is also the subject of our investigation with those officers currently witnesses in this matter. We continue to be in contact with Kevin’s family and they have been advised of the recent developments.
“We are also assisting the Coroner who opened and adjourned an inquest on March 28.”
To donate to the family’s crowdfunding page go to www.chuffed.org/project/give-kc-the-funeral-he-deserves.
Please support your local paper by making a donation
Please make cheques payable to “MSI Media Limited” and send by post to South London Press, Unit 112, 160 Bromley Road, Catford, London SE6 2NZ
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has encouraged everyone in the country who can afford to do so to buy a newspaper, and told the Downing Street press briefing recently: “A free country needs a free press, and the newspapers of our country are under significant financial pressure”.
So if you have enjoyed reading this story, and if you can afford to do so, we would be so grateful if you can buy our newspaper or make a donation, which will allow us to continue to bring stories like this one to you both in print and online.