Meeting of Metropolitan police authority turns to chaos as senior officers accused of being 'murderers'
A meeting between top Metropolitan police officers and members of the public descended into chaos and tears, as family and friends of the dead pop star Smiley Culture accused senior police chiefs of being "murderers".
A former senior adviser to the former London mayor Ken Livingstone also warned that the black community in Brixton was at "boiling point" after the 48-year-old pop star's "bizarre" death in police custody two weeks ago.
The musician, who had success in the 1980s with the singles Police Officer and Cockney Translation, died after officers came to search his house. According to a pathologist's report, Culture, whose real name was David Emmanuel, died from a single stab wound to the heart.
At the time of his death, reports suggested that Emmanuel had stabbed himself while going to make a cup of tea in the kitchen of his Surrey home.
The regularly scheduled meeting of the Metropolitan police authority, at city hall, became passionate and raucous after Tim Godwin, acting commissioner for the Met, tried to move proceedings on from Emmanuel's death.
Godwin told the MPA, the independent body that oversees policing in London, that it should not make a judgment about how Emmanuel died until the Independent Police Complaints Commission had finished its own investigation.
"It is wrong to jump to judgment either way until we see the evidence that is produced. And my sympathies are extended to the family and friends. I hope the investigation will be thorough and speedy and open to scrutiny at the end," he said.
Lee Jasper, senior policy adviser on equalities under Ken Livingstone's mayoralty, shouted from the public gallery: "Is there a letter of condolence? It would be nice, if you died in custody, would it not?"
Emmanuel's close friend, Asher Senator, cried "murderers" and "you're killing us". He was pulled away from the gallery by associates after becoming distraught. The meeting was adjourned as other members of the crowd began chanting "no justice, no peace" and more than a dozen people walked out in protest.
MPA member Cindy Butts was reduced to tears. "It has been 30 years since the Brixton riots and so much has changed but we have so much [still] to do," she said.
Speaking in the lobby of city hall after the meeting, Jasper said: "Smiley Culture was a friend of mine. We've had a suspicious death in custody and we want answers and we want them quick. So whatever process or investigation that they have, they better fast-track.
"Because I tell you what, you've got a black community here that are on boiling point and everybody needs to know that we're not simply going to lay back and wait for the long road of justice to deliver 15 years later. We want answers and we want them now."
Last week, more than 1,000 people attended a meeting at Lambeth assembly hall to discuss Emmanuel's death.
Also speaking in the lobby of city hall afterwards was Smiley Culture's nephew, Merlin Emmanuel, who said that they were calling for an independent inquiry.
"We come here today because we want to get to the bottom of what happened to David Emmanuel," he said.
The music technology teacher from south-west London added: "We are not making any undue accusations but what I'd say is that he died in the most peculiar of circumstances and what's irrefutable is that the police have a duty of care to a suspect when in their custody. The police failed to enforce simple procedures and as a consequence my uncle, Smiley Culture, is dead."
Emmanuel's family said that they had commissioned an independent postmortem. The findings of this report are expected to be returned in the next few days. The family have also called a march on 16 April, which will head from south London towards New Scotland Yard.