Report by Mitch Mitchell
On Saturday, November 22, around 50 people assembled in Windrush Square, outside of Brixton library to march to Brixton Police Station in remembrance of Ricky Bishop, a 25 year old man of African-Caribbean heritage, who died whilst in police custody on the afternoon of Thursday 22nd November 2001.
The march was led by Ricky’s mum Doreen Jjuuko and joined by other families including Marcia Rigg, whose brother Sean also died in Brixton police custody in 2008, and Janet Williams whose son died in August this year after been hit by a police car. Called by International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement (InPDUM), the march was very vocal with chants of “Who killed Ricky Bishop?” “Brixton Police” and was met with widespread sympathy from on-lookers, some of whom joined in.
According to the police reports at the time, Ricky became ill at the police station and was taken to King’s College Hospital at Camberwell where he died.
What is known about the circumstances of Ricky’s death is that he and a friend were stopped in a car at Dalyell Road a residential road in Brixton under “Operation Clean Sweep”. He died just hours later after been taken from Brixton police station to Kings College Hospital.
The police said that Ricky offered to go to the police station “voluntarily” and was not under arrest, yet CCTV showed Ricky arriving at the police station handcuffed. The police also claimed Ricky struggled with them whilst in the interview room (where there was no CCTV) and managed to free himself from the cuffs. This is extremely difficult to do when ones hands are cuffed behind them. Officers claimed at the police station Ricky told them that he had taken drugs, but when he was taken to hospital, the reason for his admission was given by the police as “unknown”.
The police informed Ricky’s mother that they had taken him to King’s College hospital, but left her to make her own way there. When she arrived, she was told that Ricky had died. Ricky had unexplained injuries to his mouth, arms and legs.
There were 12 officers involved in this matter. At an inquest into Ricky’s death, the Coroner concluded that he had died from ‘misadventure,’ a verdict which angered his family and supporters. They believe that the inquest was flawed because vital evidence was withheld by the Metropolitan Police and want the 12 officers involved in the death of Ricky held to account.
The family have marched every year on the anniversary of Ricky’s death and continue to demand justice.
Ricky is one of a number of black young people to die in Brixton police station including Brian Douglas who died after police fractured his skull with a baton (inquest also recorded misadventure), Wayne Douglas, and Sean Rigg. Investigations into the death of Sean Rigg are on-going after a jury delivered a powerful narrative verdict on the circumstances of his death despite been denied the option of unlawful killing.
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