Report says raid that led to Smiley Culture’s death “unsatisfactory”

By | Published on Monday 5 September 2011

Smiley Culture

The police raid at the home of Smiley Culture, which resulted in the death of the former reggae DJ and MC, real name David Emmanuel, was “not satisfactory”, but the conduct of officers did not amount to either criminal acts or professional misconduct, or so says the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

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.

Initial reports suggested Emmanuel stabbed himself while making a cup of tea. However, a more detailed description of events published in The Guardian suggests the stabbing occurred shortly after the cup of tea was made. Police papers seemingly say that Emmanuel, who had been calm throughout the arrest and raid (a niece who was at the house for a time during the search described him as “calm but bewildered”), 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 service more or less immediately, cuffed Emmanuel to “stop him doing any more harm to himself”, and tried to administer first aid.

With all that in mind, Mike Franklin, the IPCC Commissioner, has written to Emmanuel’s nephew saying: “On this occasion the investigation has identified aspects of the operation which were not satisfactory, and criticism has been made of some of the officers’ actions. However, these do not meet the threshold for misconduct under the police misconduct system. [And the investigation has] not found any evidence which would suggest any criminal acts were committed by any of the officers in the house”. The Metropolitan Police could still discipline the officers through their own procedures in relation to the raid, although the IPCC report alone is unlikely to result in any dismissals or criminal action.

Emmanuel’s family and friends are unlikely to be satisfied by the IPCC report, which some are already dubbing a “whitewash”. Some family members have also told The Guardian how hard they had to work in the weeks following their uncle’s passing to ensure there wasn’t any violent unrest in the local community, where anger over the circumstances of Emmanuel’s death was high. This included holding the late reggae star’s funeral in private. Some fear the IPCC’s ruling will further antagonise the local community. Calls for a full public inquiry into Emmanuel’s death are certainly likely to increase in volume in the coming weeks.