Da Costa death: five Met officers investigated for misconduct

Restraint and care police gave 25-year-old in east London may have fallen below professional standards, IPCC says

Five police officers are being investigated for alleged misconduct over the detention of a man who later died, the police watchdog has said.

The officers are to be told their handling of the restraint of Edson Da Costa – and the care they gave him once he became unwell – may have fallen below acceptable professional standards, the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) said on Tuesday.

Da Costa died six days after being stopped by police in east London in June. Investigators have previously said they believed force and CS spray were used on him.

“We are very aware of the community concerns following the death of Mr Da Costa,” said Tom Milsom, the IPCC’s associate commissioner. “So, as well as providing regular updates to the family and communicating with the officers involved, we will, when appropriate, also inform the wider community about the progress of our independent investigation.”

A spokeswoman for Da Costa’s family said: “We welcome the IPCC’s announcement regarding potential misconduct proceedings. Our main concern is to establish whether there is any evidence of wrongdoing on the part of the police in Edson’s death. We hope the IPCC investigation is comprehensive and rigorous.”

The body said it had taken key witness statements from police officers, medical staff and members of the public, and had collected video footage, including body-worn camera footage, of the first aid administered to Da Costa.

It said it had decided to serve formal notices on the five Metropolitan police officers that the “level of care they provided Mr Da Costa during restraint and after he became unwell may have constituted misconduct”.

The IPCC stressed the serving of misconduct notices on officers did not indicate guilt, or mean that misconduct proceedings would necessarily follow.

Scotland Yard said it would cooperate with the watchdog when deciding what restrictions, if any, should be placed on the officers during the investigation into their conduct.

A Met spokeswoman added: “Our thoughts remain with Mr Da Costa’s friends and family for their loss.”

The incident happened on 15 June in the Newham area and the IPCC investigation began the same day. Police initially said Da Costa was “seriously unwell” in hospital but, within hours, they said his condition had deteriorated to “critical”.

The 25-year-old, who had a one-year-old child and was described as a devoted father, died on 22 June.

Packages were found in his throat during a postmortem examination. The pathologist has not yet determined the cause of death, the IPCC said. There were widespread claims that Da Costa had suffered a series of injuries but the IPCC said these were contradicted by the postmortem.

Less than two months later, Da Costa’s mother, Manuela Araujo, died suddenly. She was no longer able to cope with the death of her son, a relative said.

Da Costa’s father, Ginario, said: “She kept saying: ‘Why? Why? Why? Why did they not look after him? Why did they use force on him?’”

He added: “She also could not understand how a supposedly first-world country could kill a young boy. She kept asking me: ‘How could that happen?’ She said that the authorities are meant to look after people, not kill them.”

Da Costa’s funeral took place on 1 September, with his family saying at the time that the day’s focus should be on his life, not the circumstances of his death.


Kevin Rawlinson

The GuardianTramp

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