Policing the Police

Share this item
Tools
 Podcast
 RSS

Jason McPherson was brutally manhandled while in police custody back in January 2007. Minutes later, he seems to have a fit. An ambulance takes him to a hospital. He is pronounced dead. This shocking incident is unfortunately not a mere isolated incitement. With the police brutality on the rise in UK, the list of names of people who lose their lives to excessive force inflicted upon them by officers is becoming a long one. The Britons, like many other nationalities across the globe, are bugged with these questions: What if the protector is now the very assailant you should keep away from? Which watchdog body should take on the duty of supervising the very organization which is supposed to reinforce the security of the citizens? With poetic narration, “Policing the Police” tells the story of Samantha Patterson’s, Jason’s sister, efforts to bring about justice for her late brother. She is not the only bereaved family member to raise her voice for the sake of justice against the police brutality in Britain. Sadly many of the victims are colored citizens.

TIME CODE : 00:00_05:00

Samantha Patterson :

Hello. I’m Samantha Patterson, I’m the sister of Jason McPherson, who died in Notting Hill Police Station in 2007. I wanna say a couple of things today. I wanna worn all of you that haven’t had your inquests yet, I wanna worn you not to go the same way I went, yeah? Do not expect, do not expect you’ll get anything out of your inquest, ‘cause you won’t. If they’d learned and if they’d listened when we told them my brother wouldn’t have died in Notting Hill Police Station, yeah? The only way they will learn is if they listen and the only way they’ll listen is if they hear us, right? So what do we want?

Crowd :

Justice!

Samantha Patterson

When do we want it?

Crowd

Now!

Samantha Patterson

What do we want?

Crowd

Justice!

Samantha Patterson

When do we want it?

Crowd

Now!

Samantha Patterson

What do we want?

Crowd

Justice!

Samantha Patterson :

When do we want it?

Crowd :

Now!

Narrator (male):

This is the story of a man losing his sight but not his vision Even so the first images are still of death .For decade after decade my eyes could only follow the families of the dead .

The camera captures images of grief, of anger, pain Of struggle, of hope, of love from time to time I look across; a flash of light breaks through now what is this?

It’s worrying, these apparitions. The fabric of my sight disintegrates. I catch a glimpse, a bluish light, a burning red, a blinding white Is this a memory or do I see what happens after life?

What is this sight?

Why make another film about death they will ask me Nobody asked Cezanne why he kept painting landscapes. Cezanne was an artist who looked beyond the image .He questioned how the eyes functioned and he was right.

Neuroscientists now understand that our eyes scan an image twice but the brain corrupts that image with what it thinks should be there Cezanne wanted us to really look .He knew how to use light .

Francis Bacon understood this too. He painted chaos. Again and again. He saw a beauty in blood. His obsession was the force of death

He said “We are always trying to defeat death by leaving images but it won't make any difference, we will just be dead and an image may live on.”

In film school students are taught how to read a film But they should be taught how to read people. A story is valued if it shows imagination But look at these faces - imagine their lives What drove them to take part in this demonstration?

While others chose to stay at home They cry out the names of the dead Each face, any face, holds a story ,This face ,This woman .

TIME CODE : 05:00_10:00

Samantha Patterson :

As a person, Jason was just friendly, loving. As my little brother, he was always there for me, whenever I needed him, I could just call him and he’d be there in a flash kind of thing, no matter what I wanted or what I needed of him, he was always there for me. He was my mom’s main carer as well, took so much time looking after my mom, always on the phone.

If I didn’t phone him, he’d have a major hump with me, he just wanted to know that me and the kids are alright all the time.

Jason McPherson :

Wicked!

Narrator (female) :

Jason had been in trouble with the law and had a number of convictions, including possession with intend to supply class A drugs. He’s served time in prison and was known to the police.

Samantha Patterson :

I’m never gonna say that Jason didn’t have a criminal record. He did his little times in prison kind of thing and, and, and he was getting away from all that and he’d met his girlfriend and he wanted to start off fresh and he said to me: “Sam, I’m finished with it kind of thing. I can’t be doing it anymore.”

Sandra Richardson :

I was at home with Jason’s girlfriend Leia and we were doing some cakes, so I said to Leia: “Call Jason up and ask him to buy us some custard. “Anyway, I called him and I said to him: “Could you bring home some custard?” and he said “Yeah” and he was on his way home.

Samantha Patterson :

She was phoning him finding out where he was and he kept saying “I’m coming home, I’m coming, I’m coning” kind of thing and he was with two of his friends and they stopped off in the Edward Woods Estate in West London and he went up to see one of his friends and his other two friends waited downstairs in the car for him. When he came back down to the car, they were surrounded by police officers, running to the car with batons, threatening them to smash the windows if they didn’t get out of the car. They all got out of the car and they were all searched right there on the spot.

Sandra Richardson :

So eventually, we were sitting there and I said to her “Nah” I said, “Something’s happened”. I said “You know, if Jason says he’s coming, he’s gonna come. “Anyway, I called again then I heard like a whole heap of noise on the background and I heard shouting then I heard a voice saying “I can’t breathe! Stop! Stop! I can’t breathe!” and I really thought it was Jason and his friends is messing about, cause that’s the type of person he was and all of a sudden I heard something like “He’s dying!” so I started shouting and I was saying “Stop messing about!”, you know and I started shouting down the phone and then the voices sounded like they were coming nearer and nearer and it was like… So I started to scream and I said, I called Leia downstairs, I said “Leia, listen to this! Listen to this!” So anyway, she listened and then all of a sudden the phone went dead.

Samantha Patterson :

I only found out what happened to Jason the morning after. My mum called me around six o’clock in the morning and I thought something happened to her. I thought she was gonna tell me that she was still in hospital or..and then she said “No, it’s Jason” and I thought “Oh, no, he’s been arrested” or something. Never came to my head. And she’s said “Sam, they’ve killed him!” and I said “Who’s killed him, mum?” I said “What are you talking about?” I thought… I didn’t… I didn’t… I couldn’t just… I couldn’t understand what she was saying. She said “No,

he got arrested and the police have killed him.” I thought“ The police? How could the police have killed him? What are you talking about?” And then she carried on explaining to me and I could hear everyone in the background crying and I realized that what she was saying was true and I phoned the police station cause I didn’t believe her. And I asked them you know what happened. I said I’d like to know where my brother is. He said “Who’s your brother?” I said Jason McPherson. He said “I’m not talking to you at the moment” I said, “No, you need to tell me where’s my brother” and he just slammed the phone down and I kept calling back and then the IPCC phoned me and said that, said that Jason had died in custody.

TIME CODE : 10:00_15:00

Samantha Patterson :

So, I thought “I’ve got to get to my mum’s! I’ve got to drive!” and I got in the car and I drove to my mum’s, it was about six o’clock in the morning. And they’ve started tell, I walked in my mum’s house and my other brother was up in his bedroom crying and his girlfriend was…I got to stop. Sorry. So I got to my mum’s and my little brother Tyrone was in his bedroom crying. My mum was sitting on the sofa and she had all her friends around her and I still thought “No, this isn’t happening. No way, Jason can’t be gone. This isn’t real.” Then my granddad walked in and I could see from his face and it was just… slowly it just started dawning on me that Jason’s gone, this is why everyone’s acting like this, cause he’s not here anymore.

Narrator (female) :

When Jason McPherson is pronounced dead his body becomes a property of the state. The Independent Police Complaint Commission are called to investigate. They must secure the crime scene, interview witnesses and collect evidence. “Why did Jason die in police custody?” is the question they must answer.

Mike Franklin :

Assuming it’s an independent investigation of a death in custody, the first thing the commissioner will do is approve the terms of reference, appoint the investigating officer and make the offer, the initial offer, to meet with the family.

I normally sit down with the investigators and have a discussion around, not just the, you know, the obvious things that have to be looked at, the witnesses, the door to door, the forensics, but also about the context in which the investigation is taking place. What are the community issues? How does this relate? How does it relate to other cases that we’ve dealt with? Is it in the same area? Same location? Does it reveal a trend? Is there anything we can do to mitigate the damage that the incident may have caused?

Samantha Patterson :

The IPCC, at first, I firstly remember them, on my case, right in the beginning, saying to me: “It’s ok. We’re independent of the police. We’ve got nothing to do with them and we’re gonna help you. We’re here to help you. You’ve got a family liaison officer, you can phone her anytime and she’ll be with you every step of the way” And I thought “Oh, OK then.”

Mike Franklin :

You look at evidence and facts and you analyze them from an independent perspective. So let me give you an example. The idea, for example, than somebody who’s a police officer wouldn’t tell a lie, so, therefore, you accept every first account you get from… Well, you know, we’re not stupid, right? And we live in the real world and if there had never been a corrupt police officer, never been a violent police officer, never been a racist police officer, never been an officer that unreasonably used excessive of force, we wouldn’t be here. There would be no IPCC. There would be no need for it.

Samantha Patterson :

I went to see the CCTV camera, the footage, and the commissioner looked at me after and she said “Sam, I’m so sorry you had to see that”. She said “I never thought it would be that bad”. And she said “I’m gonna do my best to make sure

we find out, we get to the bottom of this” and I trust… I trusted her. I thought “If she’s reacting like that, she must see these things all the time and she’s gonna help me” kind of thing. There’s no audio on the tape so I don’t know what they’re saying, but they’re talking and Jason’s shaking his head and he’s saying whatever and he’s just his normal self, kind of thing. And then the main officer goes up to him and he kind of just holds his mouth like that and he starts pushing him down to the side and then as Jason’s, as he’s pushing Jason over, another officer walks through the door and the second officer’s just come in and he’s gone underneath the first officer and you see another twelve officers running, running through past. And I sat there and I counted them and each one of them ran through and ran into the reception and they were all in front. They’ve all, they’ve all got a part to play. There’s some holding his legs down at the bottom, there’s some on his face, there’s, there’s, you can see that they’re still digging his face out, the elbows still going, they’re still punching and everything else, but the worst part of it is that my mum was still calling him, trying to find out where he was and she heard him shouting down the phone, she said she heard Jason saying “I can’t breathe! I can’t breathe! Get off me!” and the only reason that it stopped was this one black officer that was there that didn’t, wasn’t part of it all.

TIME CODE: 15:00_20:00

Samantha Patterson :

He went up and he tapped the main officer on his back as if to say “Come on, now. That’s enough. Let go of him.” And they did. And they all got up. And they all left him. And there’s also blood on the floor from where Jason was and then, and then he just fitted, like… do you know like when someone has a fit he just started fitting on the chair and then they’ve put him down on the floor and within minutes, seconds, the ambulance crew arrive and then the ambulance crew just, you see them just putting Jason on a stretcher kind of thing and then just carrying him out.

The first night I went to the Notting Hill Police Station, one of the IPCC investigators stood there and he said to me that, he said that the, the whole instance was recorded on CCTV, he said that the system was put in with sound, he said. He said “I can’t get the sound yet”, he said “but it was but in with sound and we’ll be able to get it.” And then, a couple of months after, I asked them about the audio. “Have you found it yet?” He said that it was never put in with sound.

Narrator (female):

As the inquiry into the death continues, it emerges that the senior investigator in the case is an ex police officer. It’s not an isolated incident. 88% of all the senior investigators in the IPCC are ex police officers.

Mike Franklin :

We have a number of retired police officers, former police officers, who work for the IPCC, as investigators. There are deaths in custody cases where, where, the investigation can prove that there’s no fault on the part of the police officers. It’s the ones where there’s the suspicion that there is fault or evidence that there’s some fault, that are the ones that are the most concerning. And I find that when it comes to working with former police officers who are investigators, they are far more conscious of what I might think about it than many people give them credit for.

Man speaking :

As a consequence, my uncle, David Emmanuel, also known as Smiley Culture, is dead.

Narrator (male) :

The mysterious story of another death darkness spreads like a malaise the fragile coil of life unwound

cold steel that penetrates a heart Death stalkers take a grip the edges of the picture the tears are not in vain they nurture seeds of hope form in a flood that drown those fools that play the tune of state .

The corners of this room are where the story now takes place Each face holds pain, the anger deepens

with every word and fact, with every question the mystery of how a man is dead when police are standing by his head

The memories of hard restraint have left their marks and bred distrust No legions of the dead no evil souls, no whisperers will stem the cries for truth this lust for life they feel Heartfelt demands to know the truth fall in the air before they reach the towers of the wicked With each release of pain of overflowing love of brother, father, sister, mother the tragedy of lives turned sour by po po the rich the hateful few And yet

Mike Franklin :

To families involved in deaths in custody the bereavement and the pain and anger that that causes, all I say to them, you know, the only thing I can guarantee is that I will tell you the truth based on what the evidence is. That may not always be something that people want to hear or want to see, but that is the one thing I can promise and, you know, in setting yourself up in that way, you know that, that even with death, bereavement, we are dealing with some of the worst things that human beings could do to each other, that’s never gonna be nice and, you know, I don’t expect the, the truth that we, that we uncover always to be, to be nice.

TIME CODE : 20:00_25:55

Samantha Patterson :

The first thing I would make sure was that the police officers did a statement, that their statements are written down and I would say that, another family, I would so highly recommend they get their own pathologist report down, they get their own toxicology reports, they do everything themselves independently, even though the IPCC say to you “We’re independent, we’ll look out for you, don’t”. When Jason died, the Coroners Assistant said to me that, he said “I need to tell you this”, he said. He said “You can have your own pathologist, but you don’t need to. It’s not a murder investigation”. And I sat there and I thought “Oh, OK”. I said I will be having my own pathologist report down. And he looked at me and he said “You do realize it’s gotta be a certified doctor”. And he was just trying to make it difficult just so that I would say “Alright then, forget it. Just, just do your, your post mortem kind of thing and I’ll just read your results”, but I didn’t wanna do that at all. I wanna make sure that, I wanted to do everything myself, so that I can make sure that everything is truthful.

Narrator (male) :

Her search for truth my search for light Emile Nolde understood light He painted mountains, the sea, clouds the colours merge the contours of reality blur and here, at last, I see a glimpse of hope in this vision at the edge of the picture at the edge of my eye

Narrator (female) :

On the 7th January 2010 the inquest jury gives its verdict. Jason McPherson’s cause of death is cocaine intoxication. The jury are critical of the police for not following procedures – could anything more have been done to save his life? The IPCC release their report stating that no police officers will face criminal or misconduct proceedings for their involvement in the incident. The case is closed.

Sandra Richardson :

I never thought I’d have to go through this, you know? And there’s not gonna be no ending to it, even after the investigation and everything, you know?

I’m, you know, I’m still there. There’s not gonna be no ending to it, till the day I die, so…

Narrator (female) :

There have been 827 deaths in police custody since the IPCC was formed. They have investigated fatalities as a result of police violence including excessive restraint, shootings, CS gas and use of batons. No police officers have ever been successfully prosecuted for manslaughter in any of these cases.

Mike Franklin:

I don’t feel ashamed in saying that we should try and do better. It’s not on the mission that we’re incompetent, right, is not on the mission that we can’t get, get, get things, things right, I’m saying that, however well do things, we must always strive to do better. And the very fact that there hasn’t been a successful prosecution following a death in custody till this stage isn’t because of, isn’t the fault of the IPCC, but we are part of that system and we need to make sure we play our role in making that system better.

Narrator (male) :

Time passes by the killings never end a message to the politicians they now have come to send

The long arm of the law has crushed another life the investigators cut the corpse up with a knife The body parts are held in secret jars

containing hearts and brains the evidence of liars Each year the numbers of the dead increase and yet they won’t reach number 10 be warned these endless years of grief and sorrow will turn into the fires that burn tomorrow For me I’m done with death I’m full of rage and fight and all along I’ve always known resistance is the light

Samantha Patterson

Its just strange isn’t it, even sometimes, I still think, you’re just on autopilot all the time and you’re running around seeing your solicitors and you’re seeing everything else and you’re thinking and then you get home and you think “my God, I’m doing”, you see like Jason’s picture and then you think “I’m doing this, all for him”, because I know that if it was me that this had happened to, Jason would be doing it, that’s why I’ve got to keep doing it, because I know that he’d do it for me, he wouldn’t do it any other way. 

   

Coming Up Online