On Tuesday 12 June, Day Six of the inquest, the jury was given a brief, potted account of Rashan’s encounters with public and state services.
Rashan Charles died, aged 20, in Hackney, East London, after a police officer chased him into a convenience store, grabbed him from behind, threw him to the ground and restrained him. A man described by the police as a “member of the public” joined in the restraint, helping to handcuff Rashan as he lay limp and face down on the floor.
On Day Six of the inquest into his death, Coroner Mary Hassell read two short statements relating Rashan’s final visits to his GP and encounters with the police and social services from childhood up until his death.
A written statement from Dr Rajendra Tahalani revealed that in September 2016 Rashan had been hit by a car, been badly injured with a deep wound on his left leg. Rashan went to see Dr Tahalani two weeks after the car accident with a support worker from the Jobcentre. Rashan needed a sick note, he was struggling to attend Jobcentre appointments.
Dr Tahalani said in the statement that he wrote an earlier sick note for Rashan in July 2016 for a “stress-related problem”. Rashan was on bail for police charges related to cannabis. Rashan told his doctor that he felt stressed “a lot” and smoked cannabis to help with that.
The statement from Dr Tahalani revealed that Rashan was referred to a psychologist and had problems with anxiety.
Rashan was known to children’s social services, the court heard, and was on the child protection register during childhood.
The coroner read a statement of Rashan’s previous convictions dating back to when he was just 13.
The court heard that between October 2010 and September 2016 Rashan had eight convictions for the possession of cannabis and one conviction for the possession of cannabis with the intent to supply.
When he was 17 Rashan received a conviction for the possession with intent to supply of heroin, for which he received a non-custodial sentence, the jury heard.
In the same statement relating to Rashan’s previous drug convictions, the coroner said that in June 2017, a month before his death, 48 packages were found at Rashan’s grandmother’s house. The coroner said that 17 of the 48 contained a light brown powder, later found to be caffeine and paracetamol. The remaining 31 packages contained a mix of cocaine and painkiller.
Rashan was arrested, then released on bail, the court heard. He was not charged in relation to the packages.
The jury had been told earlier in the inquest (during evidence on Day Four) that following Rashan’s restraint, a package containing a compressed brown substance wrapped in three layers of plastic had been found lodged in Rashan’s throat. The package measured approximately 60mm by 70mm.
In a third statement read out by the coroner on Day Six, the jury heard that the package Rashan choked on contained a mixture of paracetamol and caffeine. It weighed 6.18 grams.
The coroner told the jury that the package swallowed by Rashan on 22 July contained the same ratio of caffeine and paracetamol to some of the packages found at his grandmother’s house one month earlier.
The jury’s verdict is expected today.
Witness 1 and police officer BX47 handcuff Rashan Charles on the floor of a Hackney convenience store, Saturday 22 July 2017
Edited by Clare Sambrook for Shine A Light.