Sheku Bayoh police never mentioned hunt for two men to family, inquiry told
Police gave no impression there was anyone else involved in the death of Sheku Bayoh despite family members claiming they were told that was the case, an officer has told an inquiry.
Detective Sergeant Wayne Parker was a detective constable at the time of Mr Bayoh’s death and he was one of the officers who delivered the news to the family.
Mr Bayoh, 31, died after he was restrained on the ground by six police officers in Kirkcaldy, Fife, in 2015, and the inquiry is investigating the circumstances of his death and whether race was a factor.
The death message – a message from police announcing the death of a person – which was relayed to Mr Bayoh’s family was read out to the inquiry in a statement from Detective Sergeant Andrew Mitchell, who attended with Mr Parker.
It said: “Following an incident this morning in Hayfield Road of Kirkcaldy, officers from Police Scotland have been attempting to arrest Sheku Bayoh during which time he has become unconscious.
“Conveyed to hospital by Scottish Ambulance Service, and despite best efforts by hospital staff, died shortly after 9am.”
Giving evidence on Thursday, Mr Parker insisted the death message delivered on the day of Mr Bayoh’s death was read out to the family “verbatim”, and that no details of anyone else potentially being involved in the incident was mentioned.
He said: “I know exactly what he (Mr Mitchell) said because he tilted the notebook and I was reading it as he said it.”
But Mr Parker’s evidence contradicts statements from Mr Bayoh’s partner Collette Bell and his family.
The inquiry heard from a statement written by Ade Johnson, Mr Bayoh’s brother-in-law, which said: “The police officer said they were looking for two guys and that they (police) were going to a friend’s house called Martyn (witness Dick).”
Angela Grahame KC, lead counsel to the inquiry, asked Mr Parker if, when he delivered the death message, he remembers saying anything about looking for two men, to which he said: “No, at no point on both occasions at the house there was no mention of any two guys or outstanding suspects.”
Ms Grahame added: “You will understand there may be concerns expressed that if the police were saying they were looking for two guys that would misrepresent or mislead the inquiry.”
The witness replied: “There was no misrepresentation or misleading at all.
“What I knew at that point was there was no-one outstanding suspect-wise.
“That was not mentioned at all. Categorically, definitely not.”
The inquiry was also shown Ms Bell’s statement which read: “I remember them (police) saying that they were looking for somebody in connection with it (Mr Bayoh’s death).
“But I can’t really remember the sequence of when they had said that.
“I just remember when I was asking what’s happened to him, they had said we are looking for somebody.”
Ms Grahame asked Mr Parker if he recognised what Ms Bell was saying in her evidence. He said he did not, before adding she had mentioned to him she had received a call from Mr Bayoh’s friend Zahid Saeed.
Ms Grahame added: “Can you provide any explanation why Collette Bell mentions having the impression the police were looking for somebody and Ade Johnson mentioned police were looking for two guys?”
Mr Parker replied: “There’s no suggestion from very start to finish there was anyone else involved.”
Asked if his colleague Mr Mitchell said anything that would have given the family the impression police were looking for two men, Mr Parker said: “No, not at all.
“The only way I can think they may have got that impression is we discussed that the investigation was ongoing and that witnesses may be contacted. That’s the only way I can think that they maybe picked up on that the wrong way.”
The inquiry, before Lord Bracadale at Capital House, Edinburgh, continues on Friday.
The best videos delivered daily
Watch the stories that matter, right from your inbox