IPCC chief says investigation to be “done as quickly as possible”
More than 1,500 people attended the public meeting at Lambeth Town Hall on 24th March to demand for truth about the death of reggae star Smiley Culture.
Smiley, born David Emmanuel died on 15th March during a police raid at his Surrey home. A post mortem examination concluded that Smiley died as a result of a single stab wound through the heart.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has launched an investigation into his death. The meeting was attended by the family and relatives of Smiley, black community leaders and members and IPCC Commissioner Mike Franklin. It was conducted by race equality and social justice campaigner Lee Jasper.
Addressing the meeting, Mr. Franklin said: “The community demands the truth and I’m seeking the truth, but I need your support in this process. I need your help to see it through to the end. I need to ensure that justice is done for Smiley Culture.”
He added: “I long for peace and I know we have to have justice before we can have it.”
Speaking about the hurdles to IPCC’s investigation, Mr. Franklin said: “The only accounts of what happened are those of the four Metropolitan police officers. So there we have the challenge facing the investigation. No eye-witnesses, no CCTV, no independent witness evidence and the evidence of four police officers. This is not a case that can simply be determined by the word of four police officers, nobody will believe that. It has to be examined, scrutinised and tested by forensic experts.”
In a statement ahead of the meeting, Mr. Franklin said: “There is no doubt in mind my about the seriousness of this case and about the scale of shock and anger people feel about it. I am mindful that our investigation needs to be thorough and robust but that it also needs to be done as quickly as possible because people are rightly demanding answers.
“Having said that, the key to this investigation will be information we can obtain from forensic examinations of evidence gathered at the scene using the scientists and experts we have commissioned. These things take time, and we do not have control over how long these examinations will take, but I will be doing everything I can to ensure that this investigation moves forward as quickly as possible.”
Mr. Jasper urged the meeting to observe a one minute silence for all the people who have died in police custody. He led the meeting in demanding for justice, occasionally shouting “No Justice” and the crowd shouting back “No peace!”
Mr. Merlin Emmanuel, the popular reggae musician’s nephew, thanked all who attended the meeting and for their support. He said the family have a solicitor working on their behalf and have appointed a second pathologist to conduct an independent post-mortem on Smiley’s body. “We are also seeking a public enquiry into the circumstances regarding his death,” he said.
He appealed to the public to join the Facebook group “Campaigning for Justice for Smiley”. “We believe that Marching is the way to address our deep felt concerns, as opposed to any other form of response. We openly want to say that we do not support violence in any form, under any circumstance, and would be very disappointed with any such response which would further taint the memory of Smiley.”
Addressing a previous press conference on 17th March at Karibu Education Centre, Mr. Merlin said: “Smiley was a British icon, not a black icon; he was bigger than just us.” He appealed to all the British people to join the family in “this noble cause to seek truth and find justice” so as to prevent Smiley’s legacy from being tainted forever, so that he can be remembered for “his achievements rather than lies, unproven allegations and conspiracy theories.”
Mr. Merlin made it clear that the family will not relent in their efforts to find out the truth. “The police have a lot of critical questions to answer and until our questions, queries and suspicions have been fully and competently answered, we will not rest,” he said.
Mr. Jasper reminded of the march that will take place on 16th April from Wandsworth Road to the Scotland Yard.
SMILEY CULTURE DEMONSTRATION
13:00 – 16:00
Wandsworth Rd London to Scotland Yard
For further information, please check “Smiley Culture Demonstration” on Facebook
By Stephen Ogongo Ongong’a
Unite to advocate for freedom, opportunity and justice for all