Police watchdog promises thorough investigation into South Norwood student's death
A police watchdog has promised a ‘robust and thorough’ investigation into the death of Olaseni Lewis after the High Court ruled its previous investigation was unlawful.
Mr Lewis died after he was restrained by up to 11 police officers at the Bethlem Royal Hospital on August 31, 2010.
He died four days later on September 4.
The High Court has quashed the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) original investigation into the death of the 23-year-old.
It paves the way for a fresh investigation into his death exactly three years after the incident happened.
The death of Mr Lewis, who lived in South Norwood, took place after he voluntarily admitted himself as a patient to the mental health hospital after he felt uncharacteristically odd and agitated.
Hours later officers were called to restrain him following a disturbance.
He was restrained three times - first by hospital staff and then by 11 police officers - for 45 minutes before his collapse into a coma.
Inquest, a charity which provides free advice to bereaved families on contentious deaths, has been working with Mr Lewis’ family since his death in 2010.
The charity said the original IPCC investigation looked to rule out the possibility that Mr Lewis’ death might have involved criminal wrongdoing on the part of the officers involved in the restraint.
It meant relevant officers were treated as witnesses rather than subjects of the investigation.
In response to the ruling, the IPCC said the Metropolitan Police must now record the matter which will allow the watchdog to investigate whether any disciplinary or criminal offences were committed.
IPCC deputy chairman Rachel Cerfontyne said: "We are determined to conduct a robust and thorough re-investigation as it is what is demanded to finally understand what happened to Seni Lewis."
Seni’s mother, Ajibola Lewis, said she was relieved that finally the path had been cleared for a proper investigation to take place, even if it was three years after his death.
She said: "We have had to tread a long and tortuous path to get here, which would have been altogether unnecessary if the IPCC and the MPS had been willing to fulfil their responsibilities under the law.
"As it is, we find that we have been failed and victimised thrice over."
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