Rashan Charles: “Accidental death” of a young Black Londoner under police restraint

CCTV picture shows police officer pursuing Rashan Charles in London supermarket

This new documentary (watch below) about the death of Rashan Charles under police restraint examines previously unseen CCTV footage, questions the quality of the investigation and criticises the “accidental” deletion of evidence.

When Rod Charles first heard that his great nephew, 20-year-old Rashan Charles, had died whilst being detained by a police officer, he assumed that the incident must have merited whatever action the officer took. Why wouldn’t he? Rod Charles had served for 30 years with the Metropolitan Police, retiring at the rank of Chief Inspector, and Rashan was a young man with low level criminal convictions.

That first news came on the day Rashan Charles died, Saturday 22 July 2017. Rod recalls: “It wasn’t until 20 or 24 hours later, the Sunday morning, when a niece called me to say ‘Uncle Rodney have a look at some footage what’s on CCTV which has been uploaded to YouTube’. And it was when I looked at the footage on YouTube, that changed everything.”

Somebody had uploaded a few minutes’ fuzzy footage recorded on a mobile phone from a CCTV monitor in a Hackney supermarket. It showed a police officer pursuing Rashan into the shop, grabbing him from behind, hurling him to the floor with a combat throw, and heavily restraining him. It showed a second man joining the restraint, pinning Rashan down, and helping to handcuff him when he was limp and unresponsive.

“The officer was not at fear of harm from Rashan. He threatened nothing to the officer. No member of the public nearby was threatened by Rashan,” says Rod. “The nature of the force being used…has caused me and continues to cause me a lot of concern.”

Who was Rashan Charles?

Rashan Charles was  a loving father to his daughter, who was coming up to two years old when he died. He was a beloved son, friend, nephew, cousin, brother and, as Rod puts it, “an integral part of the family”.

Collage of pictures of Rashan Charles in tribute after death under police restraint

In our new documentary film, “Accidental Death” of a Young Black Londoner, The Case of Rashan Charles, Rod Charles examines previously unseen footage that reveals more about what happened to Rashan. Rod questions the quality of the investigation into Rashan’s death, the “accidental” deletion of evidence, the tactics of police lawyers and the conduct of the coroner at the inquest that concluded with a finding of “accidental death”.

Our film (below) shows, for the first time, curious interactions between the man who helped restrain Rashan and several officers at the scene, interactions that raise questions about the official narrative.

You can find out more from our continuing investigation here at Shine A Light. The articles and film contain distressing images and descriptions of violent restraint.

Watch the 24-minute documentary

Rashan Charles was one of six Black men who died during or after police restraint in England over nine months from June 2017. They were:

21 June 2017 – Edson Da Costa, 25

19 July 2017 – Darren Cumberbatch, 32

15 July 2017 – Shane Bryant, 29

22 July 2017 – Rashan Charles, 20

24 November 2017 – Nuno Cardoso, 25

9 March 2018 – Kevin Clarke, 35

Read more: 

In Britain, we have our George Floyds too – by Rebecca Omonira-Oyekanmi

New evidence, fresh questions about death of young Black Londoner Rashan Charles

Carlington Spencer: Another death in UK immigration detention

This story is co-published with investigative journalism project Shine A Light.

Main image shows police officer pursuing Rashan Charles at 01:40:16 on Saturday 22 July 2017, at the Yours Locally, Kingsland Road, Hackney, East London – CCTV stills by Shine A Light.