Smiley Culture RIP: Day 26

A slightly odd article by Dr Perry Stanislas has appeared in The Voice entitled “Why We Must Not Rush To Judgement Over Smiley Culture’s Knife Death”.

It’s odd because it wastes no time in arguing for the case that David Emmanuel may have killed himself and pouring scorn on others who say he may have been killed by the police. Which seems to be in direct contradiction of its title.

Let me be clear here in saying that I do not know how David Emmanuel (aka Smiley Culture) died. I wasn’t there – only the police and David Emmanuel were.

Dr Stanislas also mentions his involvement with the campaign following the death of Colin Roach by a gunshot wound in Stoke Newington police station in 1983. I’ve not been able to establish the extent of his involvement because he isn’t mentioned in my main source about the case: “Policing in Hackney 1945-1983” commissioned by The Roach Family Support Committee.

The book does not conclude that the police killed Colin Roach:

The Inquiry does not commit itself to an alternative explanation of how Colin Roach died. What it clearly and incontrovertibly shows is that he could not have died in the way the police and the inquest say he did. The Report does not say or suggest, for example, that Colin Roach was shot by the police in their own station. But it does show convincingly that he did not shoot himself with a gun which he carried into the station: which is what the police and the inquest asked us to believe.

Was Colin Roach shot by someone else, in or outside the foyer of the station? The Report does not say definitively that he was because it does not know. However, it does remind us — as the inquest did not — that this is not quite so implausible a story as it appears at first.

[…] The police are not in a position to challenge this argument, says the Report, because they never investigated it. From the first to last, the police behaved as if the ‘fact’ that Colin Roach’s death was a suicide was a foregone conclusion. The police certainly advanced an account of what they said or thought happened. But they conducted no investigation.

It seems strange to me that Dr Stanislas has come to a conclusion about the Colin Roach case which are at odds with the campaign he was involved in.

The “Policing in Hackney” book also includes details of how Colin Roach was attacked by the press dept of the Metropolitan Police and the media after his death and how people protesting about his tragic demise were persecuted by the police when marching peacefully through Hackney. That is the context in which the investigation of Colin Roach’s death took place.

Smiley Culture’s family have stated that they were not aware of any reason for him to commit suicide.

They have asked that his mysterious death be investigated properly and promptly so that the truth about it can be revealed. That is all they have asked for, and I think most people would agree that their request reasonable and proportionate.

The family of Colin Roach did not get the benefit of a proper and prompt investigation and neither have the family of Ian Tomlinson. So the Emmanuel family can hardly be blamed for being suspicious about the process, or seeking to draw attention to it so that it is subject to a high level of scrutiny.

Speculations about the cause of David Emmanuel’s death are understandable, but they – and Dr Stanislas’ article – are a sideshow.