No crime committed in Smiley Culture death, says IPCC

By | Published on Wednesday 30 November 2011

Smiley Culture

The Independent Police Complaints Commission yesterday confirmed that it had found no evidence of a criminal offence in the events surrounding the death of former reggae MC and DJ Smiley Culture, real name David Emmanuel.

As previously reported, Emmanuel died at his Surrey home during a police raid in March. 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 (they seemingly found a small amount of cannabis, but none of the cocaine the suspect was accused of supplying). 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 have insisted from the start, was self-inflicted.

Police papers seemingly say that Emmanuel, who had been calm throughout the arrest and raid, suddenly became very angry right at the end of their operation as one officer filled out some paperwork. It’s claimed that it was while the officer was distracted filling out a form that Emmanuel grabbed a knife, shouted something like “do you fucking want some of this”, and then stabbed himself. The officers, the official report continues, called for the emergency services more or less immediately, cuffed Emmanuel to “stop him doing any more harm to himself”, and tried to administer first aid.

The IPCC investigation into the incident looked at both the conduct of the four police officers and the planning of the operation as a whole. On the latter issue, the Commission’s report does raise some concerns about the planning that went into the raid, and in particular the risk management process undertaken. As a result, the IPCC will make recommendations to the Metropolitan Police about its planning processes. However, on the conduct of the individual officers, the Commission says there were no specific failings on the part of any one officer, and therefore there wasn’t a case to pass the matter onto the Crown Prosecution Service.

Emmanuel’s family already knew much of this because the IPCC’s Commissioner Mike Franklin wrote to them in September with a summary of his conclusions (and we already knew much of this, because the family spoke to The Guardian at that time). The family remain unhappy with the Commission’s findings, claiming that the report fails to properly address why Emmanuel was cuffed when he died, and that the IPCC’s investigation wasn’t sufficient because, by treating the four officers whose conduct was being reviewed as witnesses rather than suspects, they were not formally interviewed.

The singer’s nephew, Merlin Emmanuel to The Guardian this week: “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”. The family now plan to launch a private prosecution in relation to their uncle’s death.

Meanwhile, the IPCC report will be sent to the coroner and will be considered at an inquest hearing before a jury, though that won’t take place until after the aforementioned drugs-related criminal proceedings Emmanuel was involved in have been through the courts.