AFRICANGLOBE – “There is something shameful about a system where people die in custody and no one is held responsible,” Kadisha Burrell-Brown told a press conference.
Her comments follow news that Britain’s Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) will not be charging anyone over her brother’s death.
The decision that there is “insufficient evidence” to prosecute any of the police officers or NHS staff who came into contact with 29-year-old Kingsley Burrell in the hours before his death is a bitter blow to his family, but they are determined to fight on for justice.
The trainee security guard from Birmingham – with no history of mental illness – died in hospital three days after being arrested under the Mental Health Act on 27 March 2011.
It followed his 999 call to police for help after the father-of-three feared he was about to be attacked in the street while he was out with his young son.
“This news has almost destroyed our family because we have been forced to wait three long years to hear this,” said Burrell-Brown, speaking at the African Caribbean Millennium Centre in Birmingham.
“The turmoil of the past three years has pulled us apart, but also brought us back together to be even closer as a family. We will fight on.
“In the majority of deaths in custody cases, the victim’s character is tarnished with crude and persistent references to drugs, violence and exceptional strength.
“These racist stereotypes after often applied to young Black men, especially in the context of restraint-related deaths in custody, with the object of stirring racist assumptions and shifting attention away from the contribution of restraint to death.”
She added: “Finding out how someone died is a fundamental right. We need to establish the truth and prevent others going through the same experience. Kingsley’s children are growing up and they would like to know the truth about how their father died, but one thing is for sure: they know the danger of dialling 999 for help – in particular the police.”
Civil rights activist Maxie Hayles, who has supported the family, helping to organise three peaceful protests with them over the past three years, said: “The CPS are covering their backs with this report. Historically they have a horrendous reputation for supporting the Black community when it comes to deaths in custody. The Burrell family have been treated with contempt.”
While community activist Desmond Jaddoo said that the case again demonstrated a two-tier justice system, which had done nothing to build trust and confidence in the police for the Black community.
And he said it also undermined people’s confidence when dialling 999 to ask police for help.
But he added: “The family still has to go through the process of an inquest and the beauty of that is that a decision on the cause of Kingsley’s death will be made by members of the public in a jury, rather than behind closed doors.”
The family is planning to stage a peaceful protect outside the West Midland CPS headquarters in Colmore Row, Birmingham, on Monday, July 14.
By: Poppy Brady
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