SEAN RIGG INQUEST VERDICT: FAMILY STATEMENT IN FULL
1 August 2012
“Sean was a wonderful, talented and caring brother and son. For years he had lived with schizophrenia. He was under the care of the South London and Maudsley NHS Trust, and known by Brixton police to have mental health issues.
“We have sat through a long and painful seven weeks reliving the final days and hours of Sean’s precious life. This pain has been compounded by officers at best misleading the jury and at worst lying under oath. The evidence we have heard has left us in no doubt that Sean died as a result of the wilful neglect of those who were meant to care for him and keep him safe. If the South London and Maudsley Trust had done their job properly and provided the care and help that Sean urgently needed, he would be alive today. If the police had not ignored repeated 999 calls from the hostel, and taken Sean to the hospital as they should have done, he would be alive today.
“It was perfectly apparent to ordinary members of the public that Sean was having some kind of mental crisis on the 21st August 2008, when the police were called for help. When the police did eventually arrive they restrained him, arrested him for theft of his own passport, put him in the back of a police van, drove him with sirens, not to the hospital for urgent medical care, but to Brixton police station, left him in a perspex cage in the van and finally brought him to the caged area at the back of the station where he died on a concrete floor, surrounded by police officers.
“Sean was a fit and healthy man who died less than an hour after being picked up by the police. Nothing will bring him back but we want to know that justice will be done. We want to know that those responsible will be held to account for Sean’s death.
“We feel utterly let down by the Independent Police Complaints Commission investigation into Sean’s death which was inadequate and obstructive from the start. Until it is fundamentally reformed, the IPCC will remain incapable of exposing the truth when people die in police hands.
“We call for the Crown Prosecution Service to look at the damning evidence that has come to light in this case and demand a prosecution of those responsible for Sean’s death.
“We call for an urgent public inquiry to establish why the system in this country consistently fails to deliver justice to the many families whose loved ones have died in police custody. We want to know why, last year, over half the people who died following contact with the police had mental health issues and why, like Sean, over half died in circumstances involving restraint. We want to know why there was also such a sharp rise in the number of black men who died following police contact. We want to know why our system allows officers to continue in their jobs when someone has died in their care and why not one successful prosecution has taken place in this country since 1986.
“Until we have justice there will be no peace for us or the many other families we stand with.
“We would like to thank all of those who have helped and supported us in our long and hard fight for the truth.
“We will continue to fight for justice for Sean.”
Read the full verdict here.
‘At the time of the tragedy, I had no idea of what to do or who to turn to. By luck, I found yourselves and contacted you, the rest as we say is history. On behalf of [my brother's] family, friends and myself I would just like to thank you so much for your professional support and advice during that difficult period and without that help, I do not think we would be where we are today.’
– Brother of a man who died in police custody