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Demands for inquiry after new police restraint death

Olaseni Lewis

The family of a Kingston University student who died less than weeks ago at a psychiatric hospital in Beckenham has called for the IPCC to investigate the circumstances into his death.

Olaseni Lewis 23 from South Norwood, who was studying to receive a Masters degree in IT and business management at Kingston University, was accompanied to the hospital by his family after they became concerned he was “behaving strangely, alternating between calm and agitated phases”.

He was admitted to Bethlem Royal Hospital in Beckenham as a ‘vulnerable
voluntary’ patient but  the hospital called the police in order to restrain Mr Olaseni, who they say had become violent, within hours of his family leaving.

But after a seven-police restraint at the hospital his airway became blocked and Lewis collapsed and slipped into a coma.

Nurses at the hospital were said to have been “horrified” at the behaviour of the police and later logged their action on the hospital records as “violent restraint”. Highlighting the fact that while the police being called to restrain a patient is common practice, the staff themselves deemed the actions of the police to be excessive.

Inquest – a charity started to look into deaths in custody and to lobby for steps
to be taken to ensure the safety of those in custody – speaking on behalf of the family said the case was “deeply disturbing”

A statement released by the IPCC said the following:

“Police restrained Mr Lewis at the request of hospital staff. During the restraint Mr Lewis became passive and it then became apparent that he was seriously unwell.”

The initial coroner’s report has proved inconclusive.

Matilda MacAttram, director of Black Mental Health UK commenting on the case

“BMH UK condemn the needless loss of another innocent life at the hands of the system that is tasked with protecting the most vulnerable in our communities.

“The disturbing frequency with which we are seeing the loss of young, intelligent, and educated Black men who should be pursuing careers and fulfilling potential is deeply disturbing.

“The death of Olaseni Lewis, David Oluwale, Rocky Bennett, Sean Rigg,
Roger Sylvester, and many more are a national outrage and we need a response
from the highest level of government in order to ensure that we never see this
kind of incident occur again”.

By Richard Sudan

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