Up to 200 people have gathered for a second day outside a police station in Cardiff, following the death of a local man, Mohamud Mohammed Hassan, hours after being released.
The 24 year old’s family claim he was assaulted after being arrested at his home in Cardiff.
On Tuesday, hundreds of people also marched to Cardiff Bay police station, holding placards and chanting slogans. The road outside Cardiff Bay police station was blocked for more than an hour.
Protester Bianca Ali said: “We can’t just sit at home and twiddle our thumbs and wait for an answer from the IOPC (Independent Office for Police Conduct). We need answers now, we want answers now, we want transparency. If we see the footage and the police did not do absolutely anything, then as a community we can have a little bit of closure and move on with the situation. But until we have have full transparency, and the full facts of the whole case, we’re not going to go anywhere.”
South Wales Police said all relevant CCTV footage and body-worn video had been given to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC). Footage cannot be released while the IOPC is investigating.
South Wales Police and Crime Commissioner, Alun Michael, confirmed earlier the IOPC would investigate contact between Mr Hassan and police before his death on Saturday evening.
The watchdog previously said initial tests showed Mr Hassan, 24, did not die from physical injuries. Toxicology tests are being carried out and it is awaiting the full post-mortem examination results.
According to South Wales Police, Mr Hassan was arrested at his home in Newport Road, Roath, on Friday night and taken to Cardiff Bay police station.
He was released at 08:30 GMT on Saturday and officers returned to the property at about 22:30 following his death.
South Wales Police said its referral to the IOPC was standard practice following a death after police contact. The force said it had found no evidence of excessive force or misconduct.
‘The police have beat the shit out of me’
But according to family friends and witnesses, Hassan was released from Cardiff Bay Police Station around noon on Saturday without being charged and was so severely injured he took a taxi home. Seeing a close friend when he arrived outside his house, he told him: “Look fam the police have beat the shit out of me.”
Hassan slept for a few hours and when a friend attempted to wake him later on Saturday evening he was unresponsive. His friend called an ambulance and a first responder arrived on a bike. Hassan’s bedroom was too small for her to give him treatment and he had to be moved with the assistance of his friend and was laid on the kitchen floor while the paramedic administered CPR.
Two ambulance paramedics then arrived and declared him dead.
Lawyers for the family Virgo Consultancy Ltd Hilary Brown stated: “There are many questions that need to be answered, that can hopefully shed some light on the circumstances that saw a young, healthy black man arrested and after being released without charge in a distressed state, suffering numerous physical injuries we now need to establish if there is any connection that may have led to his death.”
Lee Jasper Vice-Chair of BAME Lawyers 4 Justice added: “Clearly Mohamud was perfectly fine before his arrest. The critical question the family want answering is what happened to him during his arrest, in transit to and inside Cardiff Police station. He is very severely injured on his release, so was he offered medical assistance in the police station? His death marks a grim and tragically familiar start for 2021. Black Lives will continue to matter.
“His family and the wider black community will want answers. Given the realities of the implicit institutional racism of the South Wales Police, the appalling weakness of the police investigation processes, and the Independent Office of Police Complaints’ and the fact that no police officer has ever been prosecuted for a death in custody, we’re unlikely to get justice from a rotten system so stacked against the search for the truth. Nevertheless, that will not diminish our efforts to hold the police to account and demand justice.”
IOPC Director for Wales, Catrin Evans, said: “We are undertaking an independent investigation into police contact with Mohamud Hassan prior to his death in Cardiff on Saturday (9 January).
“We were advised in the early hours of Sunday by South Wales Police that Mr Hassan was declared dead at a property on Newport Road on Saturday evening. We were also advised that he had been arrested by police at the same address on Friday evening and been released from Cardiff Bay custody suite without charge at around 8.30am the following day. At that early stage we advised the force to ensure that all police officer body-worn video of the arrest and journey to the station, along with CCTV footage from custody was secured for investigation.
“I send my condolences to Mr Hassan’s family and friends, and to everyone affected by his sad death. We are aware of concerns being expressed and questions being asked about use of force by police officers. We will look carefully at the level of force used during the interaction and I would urge people show patience while our enquiries, which will take some time, are made. Our investigation will focus on the interaction police had with Mr Hassan during his arrest, the journey in a police van to custody, and the period of time he spent at Cardiff Bay police station including whether relevant assessments were made prior to his release.”