March to mark four months since death of Sheku Bayoh

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A march to mark four months since Sheku Bayoh died in police custody takes place through Kirkcaldy’s streets on Sunday.

Organisers of the event, the Justice for Sheku campaign, expect several hundred people to attend to pay their respects to the father-of-two, who died on May 3 at Hayfield Road.

Representatives of the Bayoh family are also expected to meet Kate Frame today (Thursday), who heads the ongoing Police Investigations and Review Commission investigation into the circumstances of his death.

The meeting comes just days after a Sunday newspaper reported the family feared a whitewash after investigators consulted with experts of a medical condition named excited delirium.

The controversial condition, is used to describe people who are hallucinating and, as a result, display violent and bizarre behaviour, often of super-human strength.

The condition is linked to drug use or mental health issues and has been cited in police custody deaths in England and America.

However, the Pirc said the fact that forensic pathology experts from outside Scotland were contacted was not a sign that it had focused on a particular cause of death.

Ms Frame said: “We can reassure the family that in fact the opposite is true.

“In order to assist the family in understanding what caused Sheku Bayoh’s death, Pirc identified a number of expert forensic pathologists to the Crown Office.

“The Lord Advocate then selected and instructed the commissioner to approach the chosen experts and seek their opinion on the cause of death.”

Experts’ reports had to be independent, she stressed and the Crown Office would consider them alongside all other significant witnesses indentified in the PIRC report.

She later added she was looking forward to today’s meeting.

“I fully empathise with the deceased’s family and their need for answers in relation to the circumstances surrounding the death of Sheku Bayoh,” she said.

“I will listen to the concerns that the family have raised recently and update them on the further work that is being undertaken before the matter is fully reported to the Lord Advocate.

“I’m also keen to receive any additional information from them which they consider might be relevant to the ongoing investigation.”

She concluded: “I fully recognise the family’s need for a clear understanding of what caused Sheku Bayoh’s death, and despite the fact that the post mortem conducted shortly after his death was inconclusive, I remain committed to thoroughly investigating all lines of enquiry.”

It has recently been claimed the 31-year-old trainee gas engineer was found to have over 20 cuts and bruises to his face in the hours after he died.

Petechial haemorrhages were present in his eyes – a recognised symptom of asphyxiation - and he had suffered a broken rib.

A spokesman for the Justice for Sheku Campaign said: “The family believe it is highly likely that Sheku died from positional asphyxiation: essentially crushed to death.”

He added: “The family have heard from eye witnesses that at one point there were six officers with a combined weight of well over 100 stone lying on top of Sheku, who was face down and shackled in the street.”

Unconfirmed reports also state police officers found a knife ten yards from the scene where Skeku Bayoh was detained, after members of the public called to report a man carrying a knife.

The family spokesman said: “Unsubstantiated, unattributed rumours have alleged Police Scotland recovered a knife, which had supposedly been in Mr Bayoh’s possession at one time.

“However, Police Scotland have never announced that they have such a knife in their possession.”

Their lawyer Aamer Anwar commented: “The Bayoh family have stated from day one that Sheku acted out of character and that if he broke the law then the police had a right to act, but he did not deserve to die.

“When officers armed with CS, pepper spray, batons and handcuffs and restraints, try to subdue someone by force and that person dies, the number one question is whether their actions resulted in that death.”

Police Scotland said they await the conclusion of the Pirc investigation and remain committed to co-operating fully with the body’s inquiries.

The march will commence at Kirkcaldy’s Town House at 2 pm on Sunday, with a few short speeches before setting off. The route will roughly follow the route of Sheku Bayoh’s funeral, but in reverse, proceeding down Whytehouse Avenue, along the pedestrianised zone of the High Street, up Kirk Wynd.

It will then carry on along St Brycedale Avenue, pausing outside Kirkcaldy Police Station before proceeding up Bennochy Road, then Hendry Road.

It will finish at Gallagher’s, where there will be stalls representing the trades unions and community organisations which support the campaign.

There will be family-friendly entertainment upstairs in Gallagher’s until around 7 pm.