‘He needed help’: Family of Black man who died after restraint by police speak out

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The family of a vulnerable Black man who died after being arrested and restrained during a mental health crisis have spoken out about his death.

Godrick Osei died on 3 July after police were called to a care home in Truro, Cornwall, where the 35-year-old was hiding in a cupboard in the early hours.

The father of two had fled the flat he was sharing with his partner, experiencing a psychotic episode and expressing “paranoid thoughts”, his family said. Osei himself called the police while care home staff also rang 999.

Up to seven officers from Devon and Cornwall Police arrived at about 2.30am and arrested Osei before paramedics were called at 2.49am. Osei died a short time afterwards.

Family photo: Godrick and Lewison Osei as children

The death is being investigated by the Independent Office of Police Conduct (IOPC). Osei’s family, who have watched police bodycam footage surrounding his death, say Osei called for help from the officers, who instead forced their way into the cupboard where he was hiding, with a number of them restraining him within a small space.

Younger sister Lewison Osei said: “Godrick meant no harm to anyone – he was a big, gentle giant; a caring guy who was always trying to do things for others, for his kids. In addition to his two children, he was a father figure to his girlfriend’s two-year-old daughter. That’s the kind of man he was.

“He needed help. Our brother should not have died that day.”

Osei, originally from north London, had been diagnosed with anxiety and depression, and also had suffered from drug addiction. In the days before his death, community mental health workers who assessed Osei said he was also exhibiting signs of a personality disorder.

Sister Maryann added: “This still doesn’t feel real. My brother’s gone and why? We don’t know.”

None of the officers involved in the incident has been suspended or is subject to an investigation.

Maryann, left, and Lewison Osei

Jodie Anderson, of charity INQUEST, which is supporting the family, said: “The circumstances of Godrick’s death raise serious questions about police use of force, at a time of increased public scrutiny. It also once again highlights the issues surrounding police responses to mental health crisis.

“It is a matter of public interest that all officers involved are subject to a full and fearless investigation and where necessary, held to account for their actions. The officers involved remain as witnesses to this investigation, not subjects of it.

“They are on active duty and are not yet subject to criminal or even conduct investigations. This cannot be right.”

The investigation into Osei’s death is ongoing

Cyrilia Knight, of Saunders Law, which is representing the family, told The Independent: “This is a tragic death of a vulnerable, young, Black man in circumstances which require the greatest scrutiny. Vulnerable people in mental health crisis are particularly susceptible to death following restraint.

“The family need answers to establish whether things could have been done differently to avoid this tragedy”.

The IOPC said its investigation was progressing, adding: “At this stage, there is no indication that any of the officers involved may have breached police professional standards or committed a criminal offence, a decision that is regularly reviewed. We are carrying out a thorough, independent investigation that is carefully examining the interaction police officers had with the man and whether their actions were necessary, proportionate and reasonable in the situation they encountered.”

Devon and Cornwall police declined to comment.

Source: independent.co.uk