Artist News Legal

Inquest into death of Smiley Culture begins

By | Published on Thursday 13 June 2013

Smiley Culture

An inquest into the death of former reggae DJ and MC Smiley Culture, real name David Emmanuel, has begun in Surrey, where he lived.

As previously reported, Emmanuel died at his Surrey home during a police raid in March 2011. Police attended the reggae man’s house to arrest him on a new drugs charge (he was already facing other drug-related charges) and to search his premises. Three officers conducted the search while a fourth stayed with Emmanuel. But before the search was over Emmanuel had died from a single stab wound. His stabbing, officers insisted from the start, was self-inflicted.

In November 2011, the Independent Police Complaints Commission ruled that there were no specific failings on the part of the four officers involved while they were in Emmanuel’s home, and therefore there wasn’t a case to pass the matter onto the Crown Prosecution Service. However, Emmanuel’s family have always maintained that there was more to the matter than a man suddenly and violently deciding to kill himself.

At the time of the IPCC ruling, the singer’s nephew, Merlin Emmanuel, told The Guardian: “We firmly believe Smiley was murdered and that the IPCC have let us down and treated us miserably. They promised us a thorough investigation and that they would get to the bottom of what happened. But there are still so many unanswered questions – and the IPCC have now made sure that the officers who saw what happened are never going to be pressed to tell the truth about what happened that day”.

As the formal inquest began, the story from the point of view of the police officer who was with Emmanuel at the time of his death, referred to only as Witness Two, was heard again. The Independent reports that opening the case, Surrey Coroner Richard Travers told the jury: “For his part, you will hear from Witness Two’s evidence, Mr Emmanuel [seemed] to be relaxed and they chatted about a variety of things. Mr Emmanuel was allowed to make himself a mug of tea on more than one occasion”.

He continued: “You will hear from Witness Two that, when they were coming to the end of the search … Mr Emmanuel very suddenly and without warning stood up and Witness Two realised for the first time that he, Mr Emmanuel, had a large kitchen knife in his hand. The officer says that he shouted out ‘knife’ so as to warn his colleagues, at which point, Mr Emmanuel, he says, held out his arm and screamed at Witness Two: ‘Do you fucking want some of this?’ Or ‘What about this?'”

Finally, he said: “Witness Two will tell you that Mr Emmanuel’s face and body language had completely changed, he became angry and was screaming. He will tell you that he, Mr Emmanuel, then held the knife with both hands and plunged it into his own chest”.

The case continues.