Police anti-racism team orders second inquiry into death

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The Independent Online

The anti-racism unit of the Metropolitan Police has ordered a second investigation into the mysterious death of a 21-year-old black man after his family alleged that officers had failed to conduct a thorough inquiry.

The Deputy Assistant Commissioner John Grieve, head of the Racial and Violent Crimes Taskforce, agreed with the parents of Shaun Rodney that there had been serious shortcomings in the way the Metropolitan Police handled his death.

Mr Rodney's body was found in Ilford town centre on 27 June last year. Investigating officers concluded that he had jumped to his death from an adjacent multi-storey car park.

But the man's parents, Genette and Fitz, who have hired the prominent lawyer Imran Khan, allege that racial prejudice was behind the flawed investigation.

The family point to the fact that there was no suicide note. They have also criticised the police for allegedly disposing of Mr Rodney's clothes and other potential forensic evidence.

Mr Rodney had spent the evening of 27 June at his cousin's home in Walthamstow, east London. CCTV pictures show him taking a taxi to Ilford town centre at around midnight. He was last seen in a fast food outlet at around 12.30am and his body was found by delivery drivers in Havelock Street at 5am.

An inquest into his death was due to be held earlier this month in Walthamstow but the matter was referred back after the coroner, Elisabeth Stern, raised questions about the conduct of the police inquiry. A police spokesman said: "As a result of a direct request from the coroner, the Racial and Violent Crimes Taskforce will investigate the circumstances surrounding the death.

He added that the second investigation, to be led by Detective Chief Inspector Magnus Gudmundsson, will examine the lines of inquiry pursued by the police in Ilford, the 48 hours prior to Mr Rodney's death and specific issues raised by the family.

Zainab Kemsley, from the East London anti-racism group, the Newham Monitoring Project, said: "The bottom line is that Shaun's death was a complete mystery and the investigation has been incredibly suspicious."