18 October 2022
The family of Oladeji Omishore have today announced that they are threatening legal action against the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC). They are challenging the IOPC decision not to hold a criminal or conduct investigation into Oladeji’s death following Metropolitan police contact, which they believe is unlawful and irrational.
The proposed action is a judicial review challenging the IOPC to apply its own criteria on investigations correctly and rationally, with the aim of ensuring that the police watchdog carries out a more robust investigation in this case.
Without a criminal or conduct investigation, officers involved in deaths are only treated as witnesses, rather than as subjects of investigations. Their evidence is unlikely to be scrutinised and challenged to the extent that it would be under a conduct or criminal investigation.
The officers in this case remain on active duty. This legal action follows the publication of a review into Metropolitan police culture by Louise Casey, which concluded the force must take a “zero-tolerance” approach to misogyny and racism and enable offending officers to be sacked more easily.
Oladeji, known as Deji, died on 4 June 2022. The 41 year old fell into the River Thames following use of Taser by two Metropolitan Police Officers on Chelsea Bridge. He was experiencing a mental health crisis.
The IOPC are conducting an investigation into his death, but do not consider that a more thorough conduct investigation (which could lead to disciplinary action against officers involved) or a criminal investigation (which could lead to criminal charges) is required.
The family are crowdfunding for legal costs via their solicitors at Hickman & Rose. See the CrowdJustice page for more information and donate here.
In a joint statement, the family said: “Deji was only a few moments’ walk from his home and appears to have been vulnerable and frightened. The two Metropolitan police officers who confronted him used repeated force on him which we consider was excessive and unjustified. We want those officers to explain why they did not use their training to de-escalate the situation, and safeguard Deji, instead of taking the actions that led to his tragic death.
We wish to pursue a judicial review claim against the IOPC for their continuing decision to treat the two officers as witnesses to the investigation and not subjects of the investigation, and not to classify the investigation as a conduct or criminal investigation.
The damning Casey review of Metropolitan police culture, published yesterday, solidifies our concern that more must be done to ensure police are held to account for misconduct.
We are asking all those who support our cause to stand with us in taking this action which, if successful, would set a standard and ensure improved access to justice for many more families and more thorough scrutiny of policing.”
Deborah Coles, Director of INQUEST, said: “It is in both the interest of the public and bereaved families that police officers are subject to robust investigation of the highest standard. They are public servants and must be held to account at an individual and corporate level when things go so badly wrong.
It is vital that conduct or criminal investigations are commenced urgently after a death, to ensure scrutiny is thorough and that officers are rightly treated as subjects of investigations, not just witnesses. This is an issue which has impacted bereaved families for years.
This legal action from the Omishore family is an important step in challenging this systemic issue in the investigation of deaths in police contact.”
Kate Maynard of Hickman and Rose solicitors, who represent the family, said: “The threshold to treat officers as subjects and declare a conduct investigation is low. The IOPC only needed to consider there to be an indication that the officer may have committed a criminal offence or have behaved in a manner that would justify them facing disciplinary proceedings.
The failure of these officers to diligently exercise their duties and responsibilities and the excessive use of force are obvious potential disciplinary infringements for investigation. The failure to interview the officers as subjects of investigation under caution, and to properly test their evidence under a misconduct notice, risks becoming a material flaw in the investigation, as has happened in other cases. The family is taking a stand to set a gold standard for other cases. ”
NOTES TO EDITORS
For more information contact Lucy McKay on [email protected]
INQUEST has worked with the family of Oladeji Omishore since his death. The family is represented by INQUEST Lawyers Group members Kate Maynard and Helen Stone of Hickman & Rose Solicitors. They are supported by Senior Caseworker, Selen Cavcav.
Find out more and donate at www.crowdjustice.com/case/justice-for-oladeji-omishore/