Crowds protest after man dies following release from police custody
Protesters have gathered outside Cardiff Bay police station to protest after a man died hours after being released from custody.
More than 200 people marched from the city centre to the police station around a mile away to demand “justice” following the death of Mohamud Mohammed Hassan 24, as well as the release of CCTV from his time in custody.
Mr Hassan was arrested on Friday evening after reports of a disturbance at his home but released the following morning without charge.
He was found dead at the same property later on Saturday evening, with his family claiming he had been assaulted while in custody.
Police described his death as “sudden and unexplained” and say there were no indications of misconduct issues or excessive force used by their officers.
On Tuesday afternoon, the marching crowd of protesters chanted “no justice, no peace” as they made their way to the police station, and held up signs that read “Black Lives Matter” and “stop police brutality”.
One protester, Bianca Ali, 29, said she had joined the demonstration because she believed the police had “murdered a black man”.
She told the PA news agency: “The police have murdered a black man. We want justice, we want transparency, we want answers, we want the truth.
“We want them to know that we will not stand for this and we’re here to make an example of one death that it cannot continue and spiral into more.”
She added: “It was a young boy, he had a baby on the way, he was married, he was settled down, and he was arrested for a breach of the peace which resulted in his death.”
Neil McEvoy, an MS who represents South Wales Central in the Senedd for the Welsh National Party, also attended the protest and said he wanted to see transparency from the police and the officers involved suspended from duty pending an investigation.
He also said South Wales Police had a “bad history” with black communities, including the wrongful conviction of three Cardiff men for the murder of Lynette White in 1988.
Mr McEvoy told PA: “I believe in due process but there has to be due process.
“And the problem in South Wales is when you are quiet about things, due process does not happen. And there’s a terrible history in South Wales Police of miscarriages of justice.”
Earlier on Tuesday, Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford described reports of Mr Hassan’s death as “deeply concerning”.
Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price asked Mr Drakeford whether he would commit to helping Mr Hassan’s family find answers during Questions to the First Minister at the Senedd.
“Mohamud Hassan was a fit and healthy 24-year-old. On Friday evening, he was arrested at a property in Cardiff where neighbours reportedly spoke of a significant commotion,” Mr Price said.
“Having been taken into custody at Cardiff Bay police station, Mr Hassan was released without charge on Saturday. Later that evening he tragically died.
“Witnesses were reportedly shocked by Mr Hassan’s condition following his release, saying that his tracksuit was covered in blood and he had severe injuries and bruising.
“There can be no doubt that this is a deeply harrowing case and every effort should be made to seek the truth of what happened – why was Mohamud Hassan arrested, what happened during his arrest, did he have legal representation, was there any aftercare, why did this young man die?
“Whilst we should not prejudge the outcome of any inquiry, will you commit First Minister to doing everything within your power to help the family find those answers and do you support their call for an independent investigation of this case?”
Mr Drakeford said he had found reports of Mr Hassan’s death “deeply concerning” and said the circumstances “must be properly investigated”.
He said: “I understand that the police have already referred, as they would have to, this matter to the independent police investigation service.
“The first step in any inquiry will have to be to allow them to carry out their work. I absolutely expect that to be done rigorously, and with full and visible independence.
“I’m glad that the family have secured legal assistance to them in order to pursue their very understandable concerns.
“And if there are things the Welsh Government can do – then I will make sure that we attend properly to those without prejudging in any way the outcome of the independent investigations that now need to follow.”
Mr Hassan’s post-mortem was due to take place on Tuesday.
His aunt, Zainab Hassan, told BBC Wales she saw Mr Hassan following his release on Saturday with “lots of wounds on his body and lots of bruises”.
“He didn’t have these wounds when he was arrested and when he came out of Cardiff Bay police station – he had them,” she said.
“Nothing we do is going to bring him back but we will not rest for a second until we have justice.”
South Wales Police have urged against speculation, saying their early findings “indicate no misconduct issues and no excessive force”, but referred Mr Hassan’s death to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).
The IOPC’s director for Wales, Catrin Evans, said an independent investigation into police contact with Mr Hassan will look at the level of force used by officers, including reviewing CCTV and police body-worn cameras, but said early indications showed no physical trauma to explain his death.
Ms Evans said: “We are aware of concerns being expressed and questions being asked about use of force by police officers. We will look carefully at the level of force used during the interaction and I would urge people show patience while our inquiries, which will take some time, are made.
“Our investigation will focus on the interaction police had with Mr Hassan during his arrest, the journey in a police van to custody, and the period of time he spent at Cardiff Bay police station including whether relevant assessments were made prior to his release.”
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