Saturday, 3 September 2011

Was Smiley Murdered?

Smiley Culture, a significant black British musician and cultural figure, died at his home in police custody recently.  Despite there being four officers in his home, and his being under arrest, he apparently picked up a kitchen knife and stabbed himself once in the heart, fatally.  As he lay dying (this is undisputed) he was handcuffed.  Despite Smiley Culture's family hiring a superb pathologist, the police have refused to take this matter further, according to today's Guardian, for the chilling reason that the four officers are "witnesses" and not suspects - so they cannot be compelled to make any statements.  None of them has described the events surrounding this sudden apparent suicide, let alone coherently.  They have simply refused.  I once called the police and had them come to my home, and I was treated with civility and great professionalism, and I don't want to cast aspersions.  However, there is something awfully worrying about a situation where police can do anything they want to to you in your own house, and then, because they are police, not have to testify as to what happened, even if they walk in to talk to you, and leave with you dead.  That is a culture of dread.
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