Police officer shoulder-charged Sheku Bayoh during arrest, inquiry told
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A police officer has told an inquiry how he shoulder-tackled Sheku Bayoh and restrained him on the ground during his arrest.
Mr Bayoh, 31, died on May 3, 2015 after he was detained by police in Kirkcaldy, Fife, and an inquiry into his death is being held in Edinburgh before Lord Bracadale.
Pc Craig Walker, who the inquiry heard weighed 25 stone at the time of the incident, responded to 999 calls about Mr Bayoh carrying a knife and attacking vehicles in Hayfield Road just after 7am.
He said he saw Mr Bayoh carry out a “full force stamp” on another officer, Pc Nicole Short.
On Thursday, the inquiry heard how Pc Walker and his colleague Pc Alan Paton had tried to spray Mr Bayoh with incapacitants, but their sprays did not appear to have any effect on him.
On Friday, a statement from Pc Walker was read out at the inquiry, which said: “I had a clear and unobstructed view of him (Mr Bayoh) and saw him with his right leg in a high, raised position.
“He had his arms up at right angles to his body and brought his right foot down in a full force stamp down on to her (Pc Short’s) lower back, the kidney area.”
Under questioning from inquiry counsel Angela Grahame QC, Pc Walker said he initially decided to strike Mr Bayoh with a baton, but then decided to shoulder-charge him as another officer was in an “altercation” with the 31-year-old.
He said: “I just decided that the baton wasn’t the best option.
“And that to get him on the ground to get some sort of control over him would have been the best option.
“So I dropped the baton and proceeded with the shoulder-charge.”
With both men on the ground, Pc Walker said there was an “exchange of punches” between them.
He said: “It was an ongoing situation from there, just trying to get him under enough control to get handcuffs on him.”
In his statement, Pc Walker said he was not punching Mr Bayoh at full force, describing it as “pulled punches delivered tactically” in order to apply handcuffs.
He told Ms Grahame he thought the force he used at this point was reasonable, saying: “He’s certainly shown violent behaviour at that point.”
Ms Grahame asked him about how he and the other officers restrained Mr Bayoh on the ground.
She asked: “At any stage did you lie on Sheku Bayoh?”
Pc Walker said: “I think as part of having to reach across him the upper part of my body was on his shoulder.”
The officer demonstrated to the inquiry how he restrained Mr Bayoh’s arms, saying the 31-year-old was not flat on his front.
At one point, another officer tried to use a baton to lever one of Mr Bayoh’s arms from underneath him in order to apply handcuffs.
A video was played to the inquiry showing CCTV footage overlayed with police radio messages exchanged at the time.
At one point, a radio message saying “officer injured” is heard.
Ms Grahame said it showed that it took around 75 seconds between when Pcs Walker and Paton arrived on the scene to when Mr Bayoh was restrained on the ground.
>She said: “Does it make you reflect and looking back think that it was all over in 75 seconds?
“Do you think that’s maybe too short, that you didn’t spend enough time carrying out your assessment or trying to communicate with Mr Bayoh?”
Pc Walker replied: “No, I think we covered that quite fully yesterday (at the inquiry).
“We tried everything.”
The inquiry, which is examining the immediate circumstances leading to the death of Mr Bayoh, how the police dealt with the aftermath, the following investigation, and whether race was a factor, continues.