Inquest concludes: “The whole system failed Kwame”

21 Oct 2005

Kwame Wiredu died on 30th August 2002 five hours after collapsing whilst under arrest for attempting to buy beer with a forged credit card in the Dalston branch of Sainsbury’s in north London.

Yesterday the jury in the inquest delivered their verdict. The jury found that Kwame Sasu Wiredu died from natural causes. However, they emphasised that his physical distress and complaints of being unwell were not properly addressed right from the point of apprehension to the final routine check.

Diane said: “This is not the first time this has happened. Stoke Newington police has a long history of black deaths in custody. I am disgusted that this was allowed to happen again. The jury was quite clear. This young man did not receive appropriate attention. Officers persistently refused Kwame help because they thought he was ‘faking it’. He was constantly collapsing whilst in their custody and writhing around in agony - both before and after his arrival at Stoke Newington Police Station. There simply is no excuse."

She added: “It is incredible that he did not receive proper medical attention. Even if the officers responsible felt that the illness might be feigned they should have reassured themselves by carrying out a thorough medical examination. The inquest was told that he would have had “a 90% chance of surviving" had he been taken to hospital much sooner.  I am appalled that Kwame’s death could have been prevented but that no one cared enough to do so.”

Diane continued: “to add insult to injury Metropolitan Police commissioner Ian Blair is now blaming a young black civilian detention officer. The officer in question had only been in the job for six months and was the most junior member of staff on duty. She was put in charge of Mr Wiredu without receiving proper  training. Moreover, even a very senior custody sergeant was aware of Mr Wiredu’s condition but decided to do nothing.”

Diane concluded: “Stoke Newington Police’s handling of this incident leaves many questions unanswered. Incidents like this will do nothing to improve community relations or improve the relationship between law enforcement officers and members of the black community. I will want to make sure that this is the last incident of the kind in Stoke Newington.”


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