A watchdog has launched an investigation into the Metropolitan Police after a “distressed” man claiming to be stabbed died after police put him in a single handcuff.
Police are now urgently seeking next-of-kin for the man, 49, after he died in hospital.
The Met said they were called to reports of a distressed man shouting for help and trying to grab people in Verdant Lane, Catford at 7pm on Sunday.
Officers said they found the man lying on the floor, “extremely distressed” and claiming to have been stabbed.
Police officers checked him for stab wounds before placing him in a single handcuff after they claimed his behaviour became more erratic.
The force said in a statement the handcuff was removed from one of his arms as his condition deteriorated with officers performing first aid until paramedics arrived.
The man was taken to a south London hospital, where he died later that evening.
The incident is being investigated by the Directorate of Professional Standards. A referral is being made to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).
Supt Petra Lazar of the Met’s South East Area BCU said: “This is a very distressing incident, and my thoughts are with the man’s family and friends. I will ensure that they are provided with the best possible support by the Metropolitan Police.
“A thorough investigation is under way to fully understand the circumstances, and this will include a post-mortem examination to establish the cause of the man’s death. No evidence of stab injuries was found by the officers at the scene.
“The officers’ body worn video footage has been viewed. It is important to wait for a full assessment of this and other material but, at this early stage, I can say that the officers’ use of force in applying a single handcuff was minimal. It is only right that this will be subject to considerable scrutiny given the sad outcome of this incident.
“I await further details in the coming days and can assure the full support of all my officers to those investigating this tragic incident. Along with colleagues and partner organisations, I will do all I can to establish a full picture and to share that with the man’s family and the wider community as soon as possible.”