Opinion: Will the inquest into Rashan Charles killing deliver justice?
By Toyin Agbetu | Thu 17 August 2017
The family of Rashan Charles arrive at Poplar Coroners
Yesterday was the start of the inquest process into the killing of the 20 year old, Rashan Charles. But even with a jury present is there any guarantee of them delivering justice when the media has already demonised Rashan, his family & friends?
Rashan died on 22 July after being chased in Dalston shop by a police officer who then wrestled him to the ground, held him on the floor with the assistance of another man and held in a lethal choke hold until he stopped breathing. We are only aware of what happened because of the widespread release of CCTV footage on social media exposing the police actions on the day.
But just as I do not expect the Grenfell Inquiry to deliver meaningful justice, sadly, I have little faith in this inquest process serving the Charles family too. Let me explain why. Rashan Charles was killed on exactly the same day, 12 years later as Jean Charles de Menezes, the same officer who led that fatal operation then, leads the met police now. How did they escape justice?
Well in Dec 2008, a jury returned an open verdict at the inquest looking into Jean Charles’ killing by the police (they put seven bullets into the unarmed, nonthreatening man’s head) after the coroner, Michael Wright ordered them not to return an ‘unlawful killing’ verdict. The Crown Prosecution Service had already decided that no individual should face charges and the IPCC had decided in 2007 that “no disciplinary action should be pursued against any of the front line and surveillance officers since there was no realistic prospect of any disciplinary charges being upheld”.
In 2016 the family was once again denied justice as the European court of human rights supported the decision not to charge the police officers who murdered the innocent man and claimed self-defense. Sadly I suspect a similar nonsensical approach will be taken in the case of Rashan. The Police Federation that is defending the officer who killed the young father of one are already issuing statements saying he was trying to save Rashan's life. Some people believe that inquests are fairer than inquiries and others that inquiries are more thorough than inquests but the truth of the matter is that as long as there is an establishment figure at the helm then they can and will almost always pervert the course of justice when the finger points back at the government unless the people demonstrate they will not rest, that there will not be peace, whilst injustice reigns.
The coroner has delayed the start of the inquest until June 2018, a pre-inquest review will be held in Poplar on 15 November 2017.