Family left ‘reeling’ as nine police officers probed over vulnerable man’s custody death

A mentally ill man who died in police custody “must have been petrified in his final minutes”, his family have said.

Kevin Clarke, 35, died at Lewisham Hospital on March 9 following an incident earlier that afternoon in the Polsted Road area of Catford, south-east London.

His relatives spoke of their “agony” on Tuesday, as watchdog the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) revealed nine police officers are under investigation over what happened.

They were all at the scene and involved in the overall incident rather than all physically restraining Mr Clarke.

The gifted footballer’s family said: “The news from the IOPC has left us reeling.

“On the one hand, we feel vindicated that everyone who dealt with Kevin (pictured) in his final minutes will be interviewed to explain their actions.

“Yet, we’re shocked to the core to learn that the police felt it necessary to use the force of nine officers to restrain one unwell man.

“The very fact that the police called an ambulance to provide medical assistance for Kevin tells us that they knew he was unwell and potentially experiencing a mental health episode so we’re struggling to understand the reason for such an excessive response.

“Kevin must have been petrified in his final minutes and it is agony for us to even think about this.”

“We’re keeping focused on getting to the truth. Only by reviewing all of the circumstances leading up to Kevin’s untimely passing, can we be sure of getting answers.”

IOPC investigators have taken statements from all the identified independent witnesses and examined body-worn video footage from the officers involved.

Regional Director Jonathan Green said: “At this stage, we have established that the decisions made and actions taken to restrain Mr Clarke may be in breach of police professional standards and may amount to gross misconduct.

“This position will be kept under review as the investigation develops and it is important to stress that this does not necessarily mean that misconduct proceedings will follow.

“For everyone involved in this tragic incident, it is vital that we continue to carefully examine all the evidence available to us so we can fully understand what happened that day.”

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2018, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) INQUEST / PA Wire.