Sheku Bayoh inquiry: former PC denies telling grandfather he was ‘racist’

A former police officer involved in the fatal arrest of Sheku Bayoh has vehemently denied that he told his own grandfather he was “a total racist and hated all blacks”.

Alan Paton, who has since retired from the force on mental health grounds, was one of the first officers to arrive after multiple calls were received from the public about a man brandishing a knife and behaving erratically early on a Sunday morning in Kirkcaldy, Fife, a maggio 2015.

His videotaped evidence was played on Tuesday to the independent inquiry into the death in custody of Bayoh, a trainee gas fitter. Paton was allowed to appear in private after submissions regarding his PTSD.

The former officer was asked about a statement made by his now deceased grandfather in January 2016 to the Polizia Investigations and Review Commissioner – which was conducting its own inquiry into the death in custody at that time – in the presence of the Bayoh family’s solicitor, Aamer Anwar.

Paton said there was a family schism between himself and his sister Karen, whom he accused of “orchestrating” a BBC investigation which included allegations that Paton had a history of expressing racist views and had violently assaulted his parents.

Paton told Angela Grahame QC, leading for the inquiry, that his grandfather had been developing dementia and was unduly influenced by his sister and her husband.

He dismissed as “absolute nonsense” his grandfather’s recollection of a conversation in a supermarket where he described himself as racist.

The independent inquiry, under Lord Bracadale and taking place in Edinburgh, is the result of years of campaigning by Bayoh’s family, who believe his death was caused by positional asphyxia because of the tactics used by police. They allege officers overreacted and were motivated by racial bias.

Asked by Grahame why he immediately shouted at Bayoh to “get down on the fucking ground” without engaging in other communication first, he replied: “It’s not the situation for asking questions. The man was out of control, the man was drugged up, the man had a big knife.”

Ha aggiunto: “This incident was completely non-textbook, a situation we didn’t train for. There was not enough resources and could only be dealt with by clear, concise command and if he chooses to ignore those commands, then so be it.”

Paton said the he “definitely” considered whether Bayoh was having a mental health crisis, but that his main priority was “to stop him stabbing a member of the public” – although there was no knife in sight at the time.

He repeatedly claimed that Bayoh had taken the amphetamine-like drug flakka, which he said he knew from research on YouTube “gives you superhuman strength”.

Asked whether he viewed the man as a greater potential threat because he was black, he denied this, stating: “You get muscly big guys out their face on drugs who are white.”

Paton described how he became overcome with fear after he tried to use CS spray which blew back into his face, temporarily incapacitating him and leading him to shelter behind a police van.

“I had visions of the Lee Rigby incident – just blood everywhere. I was curled up waiting for something to come down on the back of my neck or something to be stabbed in my neck. ho pensato, genuinely, I was a goner.”

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