Chris Kaba’s family back call for UN to examine police shooting

The charity Inquest has submitted details of death of unarmed black man in London to the human rights commissioner

The UN has been asked to consider the death of Chris Kaba in its global investigation into “police brutality” and racism.

In a move supported by his family, the charity Inquest has submitted detailed concerns over the police shooting of Kaba, an unarmed black man, to the UN human rights office.

Kaba, 24, was shot in the head in a stationary vehicle after a police pursuit in Streatham Hill, south London, on 5 September.

In the same correspondence on Friday, Inquest also outlined its disquiet surrounding the recent death of Oladeji Omishore, 41, who fell off Chelsea Bridge, west London, after being Tasered by officers.

Both cases, involving the Metropolitan Police, prompted widespread fury and demands for a fresh debate on police violence and racism.

The Kaba and Omishore families are keen for the cases to be considered by the UN’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, which has examined “police brutality” and human rights “violations by law enforcement against Africans and people of African descent”.

The UN human rights office was tasked in June 2020 – a month after the murder of George Floyd by officers in Minneapolis – to produce a comprehensive report on systemic racism against black people.

A year later the report concluded that member states including the UK needed to end the “impunity” enjoyed by police officers who violate the human rights of black people.

The office is continuing to analyse and “monitor progress on accountability and redress for systemic racism”.

Deborah Coles, director of Inquest, said: “There are legitimate concerns about the immediate resort by police to use of lethal force and racial stereotyping that equates black men with dangerousness and criminality.”

Sources helping the Kaba family also said they are surprised that the new home secretary, Suella Braverman, has elected to keep silent on the shooting given the public scrutiny and prominence of the case.

The last act of her predecessor, Priti Patel, was to call for the Metropolitan Police to learn from the “appalling mistakes of the past”.

The shooting of Kaba came three months after the death of Omishore. Questions remain over why the family were kept waiting three months to be shown officers’ bodycam footage and why police initially said Omishore was armed with a screwdriver when in fact it was a lighter.

Reports have suggested that the officers recovered the item the man had been holding from the bridge shortly after the incident. In the immediate aftermath of Omishore’s death, the Met said officers had been called to reports of a man clutching a screwdriver.

Coles added: “Time and again we see the demonisation of the person who’s died to deflect attention away from police conduct and vital questions about the accountability of police to the rule of law.”

A statement from the Omishore family read: ““We are extremely frustrated with the decision by the Independent Office for Police Conduct to continue to treat the officers involved as witnesses and not declare a conduct or criminal investigation for what we saw as a disproportionate and excessive use of force. We strongly believe this force led to the untimely and avoidable death of Deji.

“There was no apparent risk assessment or efforts to de-escalate the situation in accordance with their police guidelines. Deji was clearly in distress and experiencing a mental health crisis. We strongly believe the officers’ actions were unlawful, and a very sad reminder of how black people are treated in police contact.”

The IOPC is currently awaiting the results of a postmortem to establish the cause of Omishore’s death. A separate homicide investigation is being carried out into Kaba’s death, including the criminal investigation of a police officer.

The UN report featured a number of UK deaths involving police, including the case of Kevin Clarke, who died after being restrained by officers in London in 2018.

The IOPC reopened an investigation into Clarke’s death in August 2021.


Mark Townsend

The GuardianTramp

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