A police officer involved in the arrest of Sheku Bayoh has told the inquiry into his death in custody that he heard one of Bayoh’s ribs break as he attempted to resuscitate him.
PC Craig Walker, who the inquiry heard weighed 25st (158kg) at the time of the incident in Kirkcaldy in May 2015, said he performed CPR after he and two other officers who were trying to restrain Bayoh on the ground realised that he was unconscious.
Walker also said a list of descriptive terms used by fellow officers about Bayoh – including “deranged with superhuman strength” – amounted to “perception”. He said he was unaware of stereotyping relating to black men and criminal justice.
After insisting he had not encountered any examples of racial discrimination or racist jokes or comments among colleagues, Walker was asked by Claire Mitchell QC, acting for the Bayoh family, whether comments such as “the biggest male I have seen” amounted to racial stereotyping.
Walker, the first officer involved in Bayoh’s arrest to appear at the inquiry, replied: “They could be referring to a muscular build. If someone was to say that to me, that would be their judgment.”
The inquiry heard that Walker and the former PC Alan Paton – the first officers to respond to calls from the public about a man brandishing a knife and behaving erratically early on a Sunday morning – were both 6ft 4ins in height, compared with Bayoh’s 5ft 10ins.
Bayoh’s family campaigned for years for an independent inquiry into his death, which they believe was caused by positional asphyxia because of the tactics used by police. They allege officers overreacted and were motivated by racial bias.
Angela Grahame QC, the inquiry’s senior counsel, asked Walker about how he, Paton and another officer restrained Bayoh on the pavement. She asked: “At any stage did you lie on Sheku Bayoh?”
Walker replied: “I think as part of having to reach across him, the upper part of my body was on his shoulder.”
He said the 31-year-old was not flat on his front because his left arm remained underneath him.
The restraint began, 그는 말했다, after he witnessed Bayoh make a “full-force stamp” on another officer, PC Nicole Short.
Walker confirmed that “when we turned up he wasn’t actively in possession of the knife, or brandishing it.”
Asked what role race played in the assumptions and choices that were made by police that morning, Walker said he “didn’t make any assumptions”, and that all decisions were “based on the threat he posed to ourselves and members of the public”.
The public inquiry, under Lord Bracadale, continues.