Relatives of a man who died after jumping from a bridge having been Tasered by police said they are “deeply distressed” by the events that led to his death.
The family of Oladeji Adeyemi Omishore, 41, who died after a confrontation with two officers on Chelsea Bridge on June 4, is calling on a watchdog to investigate initial incorrect reports that he was armed with a screwdriver.
Details released by the Metropolitan Police in the aftermath of the incident said that officers had been called to reports that a man was “armed with a screwdriver”.
On Tuesday, watchdog the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), which is investigating, confirmed that, in fact, Mr Omishore had been carrying a plastic and metal firelighter, which relatives said he used to light cigarettes.
His family’s lawyer, Kate Maynard, of Hickman and Rose, said they want to know why the initial Metropolitan Police statement referred to a screwdriver when the lighter had already been seized, and why it took the IOPC several days to correct the public record.
The charity Inquest said that Mr Omishore’s family “have urged the IOPC to include the release of misinformation about the screwdriver/cigarette lighter” in their investigation.
In a statement issued through Inquest, Mr Omishore’s family said: “Deji was a beloved son, brother, friend who was creative, musically gifted and talented. Not only was he caring and funny, he also had a great appreciation for arts, nature and his local neighbourhood.
“We are deeply distressed by the events leading up to Oladeji’s death and are engaging fully in the IOPC investigation to seek answers. We welcome the long overdue correction that all Oladeji had in his possession at the time was a lighter.
“Deji was clearly suffering from a mental health crisis and he was vulnerable and frightened. We have set out our concerns to the IOPC about how the officers communicated with him, their repeated use of force on him, and its impact.”
They also expressed concern that the officers involved remain on duty while the investigation is carried out.
The family said: “We sincerely hope that the IOPC investigation, and ultimately the inquest, will hold the Metropolitan Police accountable for their actions and also shed further light on the very necessary policy and social justice changes that we need to see to rebuild public confidence and trust in the police.
“In the meantime, while the investigations are still under way, we are concerned that the officers who had contact with Deji remain on active duty.”
A spokesperson for the IOPC said: ”The family of Oladeji has complained to us about statements issued by the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) after he died, which mentioned they had been called to a report that he was in possession of a screwdriver. We will now be investigating that complaint as part of our wider investigation into the circumstances surrounding his death.
“We were unable to verify that the object Oladeji was carrying was a firelighter until we received that from the MPS on Thursday June 9. We gave this information to his family on Monday June 13 once we had appropriate support in place for them through our family liaison manager. We have apologised for the distress this delay caused.”
A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police said: “This was a tragic incident and our sympathies are with Mr Omishore’s family as they continue to come to terms with the loss of their loved one.
“We are co-operating fully with the IOPC’s investigation and their findings will be released in due course.
“The officers involved in this incident remain on full duties.
“Decisions about the status of any officer involved in an incident under investigation are kept under review.”