13 May 2022

‘He looked like he was carrying a knife’ – Drivers recount day Sheku Bayoh died

13 May 2022

Drivers have spoken of the moment they came across a man who looked like he was carrying a knife on the day Sheku Bayoh died.

Harry Kolberg was driving in the Hayfield area of Kirkcaldy with his son, Robson, the morning Mr Bayoh was pronounced dead after being restrained by officers on May 3 2015.

An inquiry investigating the 31-year-old’s death heard at about 7am that day, Mr Kolberg and his son saw a man who appeared to be holding a knife walking directly towards them in the town’s Templehall Avenue before chasing their car.

Footage captured on Mr Kolberg’s dashcam played at the inquiry showed the man walking towards his car.

Mr Kolberg said the man had a “clenched fist” and came within “arms length” of his vehicle.

Angela Grahame QC is leading the inquiry into Mr Bayoh, who died after being restrained by officers on May 3 2015 (Jane Barlow/PA) (PA Wire)

He said: “After we passed him, he (Robson) said: ‘Dad, he’s chasing the car, and it looks like he’s got a knife in his hand.’

“I had a quick look in the mirror and he was chasing the car.”

Mr Kolberg continued: “Because he was chasing, I turned up on to Henry Road, went up the road, I saw in the mirror he actually ran to the other side of Henry Road, towards Hayfield industrial estate.

“My first initial thought was that he thought, ‘Oh he’s phoning the police and I better disappear’.”

The inquiry was played a recording from a 999 call that Mr Kolberg made after spotting the man.

He told police: “Just as I passed him he thumped my car.

“It looked like he was carrying a knife and he started chasing the car.”

When an officer asked him for a description of the man, he replied: “African origin, quite muscly build.”

David Grey, 62, was also at the scene the day Mr Bayoh was restrained by police and called to give evidence.

Witness David Grey leaving Capital House in Edinburgh after giving evidence at the Sheku Bayoh inquiry (Jane Barlow/PA) (PA Wire)

Mr Grey, who was driving a large white van shortly after 7am in Hayfield Road on May 3 2015, said he spotted a man with “what appeared to be a knife blade” about 7in long walking towards his vehicle.

The witness said at this point, another driver, going in the opposite direction, told him: “There’s a man up there with a knife, turn around.”

When asked by Angela Grahame QC, leading the inquiry, to describe the man he saw, the witness said: “He was tall, excessive of 6ft in height, wearing a white top and dark coloured trousers.

“His eyes were very, very wide open and as he walked towards me, it was more like a march, like he was intent on going somewhere, on a mission type thing.

“He also walked with his palms open, and in his left hand I saw what appeared to be a blade, a knife blade.”

Mr Grey continued: “When I see someone like that, the first thing I think is it’s drink or drugs that have caused their eyes to be so dilated and so open, and a fixed stare looking straight ahead.

“That’s what I thought.

“He was very purposeful in his walk.

“The way he was marching, and marching down the road, it was like he was going to do something, take revenge I don’t know, on someone down the road.”

The inquiry, before Lord Bracadale, continues.

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