Sheku Bayoh inquiry: Witness casts doubt on claims of stamp on police officer

·4-min read
Shaku Bayoh died while being restrained by police officers in Kirkcaldy (Bayoh family/PA) (PA Media)
Shaku Bayoh died while being restrained by police officers in Kirkcaldy (Bayoh family/PA) (PA Media)

A man who watched Sheku Bayoh being detained has told a hearing he did not think it was possible the 31-year-old could have stomped on a constable as described to the inquiry by police officers.

Kevin Nelson, who lived opposite to where Mr Bayoh was detained by officers in Kirkcaldy’s Hayfield Road, watched from his living room window as the 31-year-old was arrested.

Mr Bayoh was pronounced dead in hospital after the incident on May 3 2015.

Pc Ashley Tomlinson has previously told the Edinburgh-based inquiry Mr Bayoh had punched Pc Nicole Short, after which she fell on the ground, before “stomping on her back”.

Angela Grahame QC, senior counsel to the inquiry, put to Mr Nelson the image of Pc Craig Walker showing how he claimed the stomp happened.

Pc Ashley Tomlinson (centre) had told the inquiry that Mr Bayoh had stomped on Pc Nicole Short (PA Wire)
Pc Ashley Tomlinson (centre) had told the inquiry that Mr Bayoh had stomped on Pc Nicole Short (PA Wire)

“Is it possible when his arms were raised and you saw him with his arms raised that he was stamping on the female officer?” the QC asked him.

The 42-year-old said: “I don’t think it’s possible, no.” He added: “She was down and had moved away from him, as soon as she was going down that’s when he changed course.”

Ms Short, who no longer works at Police Scotland, has told the inquiry she was told Mr Bayoh had stamped on her head in the canteen following the incident.

On Tuesday, Mr Nelson described to the the inquiry, held before Lord Bracadale, the moment he saw officers arrive at the scene just metres from his front door.

He said he had seen Mr Bayoh walking the way anyone would walk in a morning with bad weather. Mr Bayoh was walking at a “pretty brisk pace, arms moving, not a swagger or a mission”, he told the inquiry.

Mr Nelson said he saw the Pava spray being deployed by officers.

Seconds later he changed direction, he told the inquiry, and added he started “throwing punches”.

“It was just wild swinging. Both arms were going,” he said. “It didn’t look like, I’m not a boxing expert, but it didn’t look in any controlled way.”

He told Ms Grahame he saw Pc Short being hit, and her starting to fall down. He then stopped swinging, the inquiry was told, and looked as if he was trying to get away.

“Then the policeman just grabbed him. Almost tackled him,” he said. Mr Nelson said he made his way from his window to his gate, which took between 12 and 15 seconds, and when he got out he saw a “mound of people on the pavement”.

He described it as a “collapsed scrum” on top of Mr Bayoh, and it looked like there were arms and legs everywhere.

Pc Kayleigh Good, giving evidence, showed to the inquiry the position Mr Bayoh was in when he was being detained.

She laid on the floor of the inquiry room, face down, and said he had been trying to lift himself from the floor as if in a press-up.

Pc Good, 32, had just signed up to the force as a full-time police officer just before the incident after serving as a special constable.

Pc Alan Smith was her tutor and the inquiry heard they arrived at the scene scene moments after an emergency button was pushed.

Mr Bayoh was reported to have been carrying a knife, prompting the initial 999 response, and in a statement given to the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner for Scotland (Pirc), Pc Good said it was rare that an emergency button was pressed and, because of the nature of the call, she “made the conclusion that (Pc Short) may have been stabbed”.

“I was also thinking at that point of the Lee Rigby incident in London, mainly due to the fact of the coloured male and the potential for terrorist connotations,” the inquiry heard Pirc was told.

When asked about the language used, she told the inquiry: “First of all, I wanted to say that when I said coloured I’ve said that in error. I never meant to cause offence. I’ve just said the wrong word. I was obviously very young in service.

“I’ve not meant to cause offence with it I have just been describing the male.

“I know that’s not the acceptable word to use.”

She added: “I think back then I was trying to be polite. I didn’t want to say the wrong thing and I have obviously made a mistake and used the incorrect term.”

Pc Good told the inquiry there were no racist jokes or comments in the police station, from either her or her colleagues and, if there had been, she would have challenged them.

The inquiry, being held at Capital House in Edinburgh, continues.

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