Police attacked over chase death: Suspensions urged after man crushed by police car. Alex Renton reports

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The Independent Online
THE FAMILY of a man crushed to death in a field by a police car called for the officers involved to be suspended, pending the outcome of the police investigation.

Family and friends of 28-year-old John Pellew demonstrated with black rights activists outside Sevenoaks police station yesterday and later visited the scene of his death. Wreaths lay in the ditch where he died, a few yards from the M25 at Sundridge, Kent.

Early on the morning of 18 July, police were called to investigate a burglary at a petrol station 10 miles away at Wrotham Heath. They found Mr Pellew riding a motor cycle near by. He was requested to stop, according to Kent Police, and when he failed to do so was chased by a three-litre Vauxhall Carlton car belonging to the force's traffic division.

The chase ended at about 3.50am at Chevening Road, a minor public road crossing the M25. Finding it blocked, Mr Pellew turned into a grass field, abandoned the motor cycle, a 900cc Yamaha which had been reported stolen in London earlier, and started to run.

Twenty yards from the gate is the remains of a flimsy wire fence and then the ditch, with a hedge behind it. Mr Pellew ended up in the ditch with the police car on top of him. A fire engine had to remove the car before his body could be recovered. He was certified dead at the scene.

Kent Police confirm these details, but will not comment further until their investigation is completed. John Bryant, a friend of the Pellew family, visited the scene later on the day of the accident. 'We found pieces of the car's number plate and fragments of red and white from John's helmet. It looked as though the car had gone headfirst into the ditch: there were wheelspin marks on the edge where they must have tried to reverse out.'

Egbert Pellew, the dead man's father, said his son was a 'quiet and gentle man, who liked sports and enjoyed life'. He asked how the officers could still be on duty. 'They saw him in the field and they ran him over. Is this justice?' he asked.

Mr Pellew had his own car-spraying business in West Norwood, south London. Sharon Hayes, 25, the mother of his three-year-old daughter, is taking legal advice over a possible civil suit agains the police. She said: 'This is ruining my life and my daughter's life: nothing can bring her dad back. But I'd like to know why these people are still on duty.'

Suspension from duty is at the discretion of the force in question. A spokeswoman for Kent Police said yesterday: 'The deputy chief constable reviewed the decision not to suspend the officers in the light of the progress of the investigation and the family's representation. He still saw no need to suspend them.'

The Police Complaints Authority, which is supervising the investigation, said yesterday that it did not see any reason to call for an independent police force to carry out the investigation. It hoped that the report on the investigation would be complete by the end of October.

(Photograph omitted)

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