Two Met officers face gross misconduct hearing over Kevin Clarke death | Metropolitan police

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Two Metropolitan police constables will face a gross misconduct hearing after the Independent Office for Police Conduct’s reinvestigation into the death of Kevin Clarke, who died shortly after being restrained by up to nine officers.

The watchdog said the constables should be subject to misconduct proceedings over their alleged failure to provide an appropriate level of care to Clarke, a mentally ill black man, who could be heard saying the words “I can’t breathe” while being restrained, and for alleged dishonesty and lack of integrity.

A police sergeant will also face a gross incompetence hearing for failing to adequately supervise the situation after the watchdog’s further inquiries into the circumstances surrounding the death of Clarke, 35, in March 2018 in Lewisham.

The IOPC director, Steve Noonan, said: “Our thoughts remain with the family and friends of Kevin Clarke and all those affected by this incident.

“We have determined that two officers have cases to answer for gross misconduct. We also determined that a third officer should attend gross incompetence proceedings. It is now for the [Metropolitan police service] to organise proceedings for the three officers.”

The Met police said in a statement that it agreed with the IOPC’s recommendations and that a hearing for the two constables, who have been placed on restricted duties, would be held as soon as possible.

The IOPC recommended that a fourth officer, also a police constable, should be subject to the reflective practice review regarding their actions while Clarke was being walked to an ambulance.

The decision by the watchdog to review its original investigation followed findings by an inquest jury last October about failings by police and ambulance services to respond appropriately to Clarke’s mental health crisis. The jury found that the police’s inappropriate use of restraints had contributed to Clarke’s death.

Clarke’s mother, Wendy Strachan, said: “This process has taken nearly two years and our family is emotionally and physically exhausted with the delays and constant battle with the IOPC. We wouldn’t have had to go through this painful wait if the IOPC had carried out a proper investigation the first time round.

“We had hoped that more officers would face misconduct proceedings, but it is positive that more officers will face misconduct proceedings this time than following the IOPC’s original investigation.”

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Cyrilia Davies Knight, the lead solicitor for Clarke’s family, said it was important that the IOPC reopened its investigation in light of the inquest jury’s conclusions. But she criticised the length of time the watchdog had taken to make its new recommendations.

Deborah Coles, the director of the charity Inquest, said: “Without the pressure on the IOPC by the family’s lawyers to review the inquest evidence, this decision would not have come about. Once again, we question whether the IOPC can do the job we need it to do to hold the police to account for criminality and wrongdoing.

“We must now see urgent progress on the misconduct hearings, and accountability for all the officers involved in Kevin’s death.”

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