Officer felt ‘horrific’ after realising Sheku Bayoh was unconscious – inquiry

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A police officer who was involved in the arrest of Sheku Bayoh said he felt “horrific” after he and other officers realised he was unconscious, an inquiry has heard.

It also emerged the same officer attended a wedding with Mr Bayoh two years before his death in 2015.

However, PC Daniel Gibson said he did not believe he had any contact with Mr Bayoh at the event in 2013.

An inquiry into the circumstances of Mr Bayoh’s death, and whether race was a factor, is taking place at Capital House in Edinburgh.

Sheku Bayoh inquiry
Angela Grahame questioned the police constable (Jane Barlow/PA)

Pc Gibson was questioned by the inquiry’s senior counsel, Angela Grahame QC, on Wednesday.

The inquiry was shown a photograph of a wedding where Pc Gibson and Mr Bayoh’s face could be seen. Faces of other people at the wedding were blurred out.

The bride was said to be a friend of Mr Bayoh’s partner at the time, Colette Bell.

Pc Gibson said: “I don’t think I had any contact with him.

“I think my partner recalls that we were sat at the same table though, but I wasn’t sure about that.”

After taking the stand to give evidence, Pc Gibson described the scene he saw when he arrived on Hayfield Road, Kirkcaldy, on May 3 2015.

He said he saw two other officers struggling with Mr Bayoh on the ground.

The constable said he helped the other officers by restraining the 31-year-old’s legs. Straps were then applied to Mr Bayoh’s legs.

Sheku Bayoh inquiry
Anti-racism protesters have demonstrated outside the inquiry (Jane Barlow/PA)

Pc Gibson said he saw that another officer had handcuffed Mr Bayoh with his hands in front of him.

Another officer said “get off him” and they then realised Mr Bayoh was unconscious, he said.

His statement to the inquiry said things were “frantic” as the police officers then tried to perform CPR on Mr Bayoh.

Ms Grahame asked Pc Gibson how he was feeling at that point, he replied: “Horrific.”

Sheku Bayoh inquiry
The inquiry is taking place before Lord Bracadale (Andrew Milligan/PA)

He continued: “Shocked. What’s going on? I had never experienced anything like this before.”

Describing how he felt when he returned to Kirkcaldy police station, he said: “Not in this world is the best way I would describe it.”

In the station’s “writing room” there was no discussion between him and two other officers about what had happened, he said.

Pc Gibson was also asked about his views on race. He said he had not been taught about unconscious bias during his training at police college.

He said he had never made assumptions about anyone based on the colour of their skin.

The constable said he had not encountered racist jokes or comments at Kirkcaldy police office.

Speaking about use of the phrase “coloured”, he said: “It’s definitely not acceptable now.

“And I think it’s almost an educational thing, people aren’t aware of it.”

Sheku Bayoh inquiry
Sheku’s mother Aminata Bayoh (right) with lawyer Aamer Anwar outside Capital House at the beginning of the inquiry (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Earlier on Wednesday, a medic who treated Mr Bayoh in hospital after his arrest, had said the fact he was in handcuffs may have hindered police and paramedics’ attempts to perform CPR on him.

Dr Gillian Pickering was in charge of the A&E team which tried to resuscitate Mr Bayoh at Victoria Hospital in Fife on the morning of May 3 2015.

She said the fact he was wearing handcuffs could have affected the outcome.

Mr Bayoh had been arrested by police officers on nearby Hayfield Road in Kirkcaldy that morning, who were responding to reports of him in the street with a knife.

Sheku Bayoh inquiry
Sheku Bayoh died after being restrained by police officers in May 2015 (Bayoh family/PA)

Dr Pickering was questioned by the inquiry’s junior counsel, Laura Thomson, on Wednesday.

Describing what she saw when Mr Bayoh arrived at the hospital, the emergency medicine consultant said: “I remember him being a very big man, he had his hands in front of him on his chest, cuffed.”

The inquiry was shown a patient note that Dr Pickering had made.

It said the patient had been “found by police with knife, aggressive, attacked police officer”.

It said pepper gas had been used and he had been “hit on back of head. Then was in respiratory arrest”.

Dr Pickering said the Mr Bayoh went into cardiac arrest within a few minutes, as well as being in respiratory arrest.

She told the inquiry she asked the police with him to remove the patient’s handcuffs.

The consultant was asked if she could comment on whether there would have been any difference to the outcome of the CPR performed by police and paramedics if the handcuffs had been removed.

She said: “It could have, the gentleman was a big guy and his arms were big and they were across his chest.

“To do good effective CPR and you need to be able to get good access to the chest.”

She continued: “I can only assume they were giving as good CPR as they could. Whether the cuff’s in the way, it would’ve hindered giving really good compressions.”

She said “drugs were in my head as a potential cause” for his cardiac arrest due to his age and the description of him being “aggressive”.

Naloxone, an anti-opioid drug, was administered but it did not appear to have any effect.

Dr Pickering said she was not told about Mr Bayoh being pinned to the ground during his arrest.

Asked how this information would have helped her, she said: “It’s not going to change what I would do, but it would give me an idea of what has led up to it.”

The inquiry was told the medics shocked Mr Bayoh to try and resuscitate him, but it had no effect.

The team involved in his emergency care pronounced death at 9.04am.

Claire Mitchell QC, representing the Bayoh family, said the inquiry may hear later that paramedics could not apply an IV line because Mr Bayoh was in handcuffs.

She asked about the effect of delays in giving certain drugs, Dr Pickering responded: “It means it makes it harder to get the heart to restart.”

The inquiry, before Lord Bracadale, continues.

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