Sean Rigg: Five police officers could be charged over death in custody of mentally ill man

Family of musician welcome decision to refer the case to the CPS following his death in Brixton police station in 2008

Caroline Mortimer
Wednesday 02 March 2016 02:03
Sean Rigg, a London musician who suffered from paranoid schizophrenia
Sean Rigg, a London musician who suffered from paranoid schizophrenia

Five London police officers could face criminal charges following a second investigation into the death of a mentally ill man in custody.

Sean Rigg, a London musician who suffered from paranoid schizophrenia, died of a heart attack while in police custody at Brixton police station in August 2008.

The 40-year-old had been arrested while experiencing a mental health crisis and a 2012 inquest concluded that “unsuitable restraint” had been used. He was held in the “prone position” for eight minutes.

Following a second investigation into his death, the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has referred the case to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).

The CPS will now need to decide whether to bring criminal charges against the five officers involved.

IPCC deputy chair, Sarah Green, said: “Having reviewed the evidence and the final report I have decided to refer this investigation to the CPS to determine whether any criminal charges should be laid. The evidence relates to the actions of five police officers.”

Campaigners, including Mr Rigg’s eldest sister Marcia Rigg-Samuel, who have been calling for answers, welcomed the decision.

Ms Rigg-Samuel told BuzzFeed News: “We have had to battle every step of the way through two separate investigations [one failed] and a lengthy inquest into Sean’s death to get to the bottom of what happened to my brother and to hold the officers involved to account for their conduct.”

The first IPCC investigation in August 2008 found there was no evidence of neglect or wrongdoing and said the Brixton officers had acted “reasonably and proportionately”.

But the IPPC reopened the case in 2012 after the findings of the inquest.

CCTV footage revealed that Mr Rigg was not checked when he was restrained at the back of a police vehicle, despite claims officers did so.

Two of the officers were arrested by the IPPC on suspicion of perverting the course of justice, but the CPS declined to prosecute due to lack of evidence.