The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) has issued an ‘unprecedented unreserved apology’ for its failings in Sean Rigg’s case.
Sean Rigg was 40 years’ old when he died at Brixton Police Station on the 21st of August 2008. In the midst of a mental health crisis, Sean was pursued by police officers from Brixton Police Station through the streets of Balham, South London, where he was restrained by three officers in a dangerous prone position for 7-8 minutes. An inquest in 2012 found that Sean Rigg had died from a cardiac arrest as a result of restraint in the prone position, which was deemed ‘unnecessary’ and ‘unsuitable.’
The apology related to failings in the police misconduct investigation carried out by the IOPC and their predecessor, the Independent Office for Police Complaints (IPCC), which were recognised to have ‘added to the distress and grief of the Rigg family.’
In the letter, acting director of the IOPC, Tom Whiting, apologised for the long delays involved in the investigation into Sean’s death and the time which it took to reach a conclusion.
The IOPC also apologised for their failure to give prior notification to Sean’s family of a civil claim which three of the police officers had brought against the IOPC. The Rigg family only learned of the claim after it was published in an article issued by the Police Federation.
‘I understand that this caused you and your family anxiety, distress and upset in addition to that which you inevitably suffered in the wake of your brother’s death and investigations and proceedings that followed. For that I unreservedly apologise,’ the letter stated.
In response to the apology, Marcia Rigg explained that the ‘never-ending trauma and painful impact’ of Sean’s death ‘continues to haunt me’.
Ms Rigg reflected that ‘the lengthy judicial process very rarely affords any proper accountability following deaths caused by excessive force’ used by police. She further commented that in her view, and that of many other families and the wider public, ‘there continues to be zero confidence in the investigative and judicial process, no justice even with damming evidence and countless reviews, proving that the whole judicial system in the UK is fundamentally flawed; institutionally racist; corrupt and a national public scandal.’
However, Marcia Rigg concluded by saying:
‘I appreciate these apologies and trust that the IOPC will now consider informing families and complainants of any similar compensation to officers by the IOPC as a matter of course, as a courtesy and in the wider public interest.’