Family demands transparency in custody death case
The Friends of Mikey Powell Campaign for Justice was established by the family of Michael Lloyd Powell (known as Mikey), a cousin of the renowned poet and writer, Benjamin Zephaniah, following his death whilst detained in police custody.
Mikey was 38 years old and a father of three young children. He had never been in trouble with the authorities and was well known and respected within his community. He would, (although this was on extremely rare occasions), be prone to bouts of depression; and on the night in question one of these episodes occurred. Mikey died on 7th September 2003, in police custody in Handsworth, Birmingham. He had been detained under restraint outside his mother’s house in the Lozells area of the city.
This is what happened. Officers drove a police car at Mikey, hitting him, beat him with batons, CS gassed him, restrained him and, knowing he was injured, and drove him to a police station not a hospital. At the police station the officers simply did not call for an ambulance for over 4 minutes. Mikey was dead by the time it arrived. On any body’s version something went very seriously wrong.
Mikey’s death has had a profound effect on his extended family, particularly his immediate family members, his children and partner. The family of Mikey Powell is committed to ensuring that answers are found to the many questions surrounding his death. Whether or not the actions of attending officers were directly attributable to his death remains to be seen.
The whole community was outraged and angry that this could happen so suddenly to a law abiding citizen. This was reflected in a packed public meeting held in September 2003, and a march to Thornhill Road police station in November 2003. Over 500 people attended the protest and hundreds more lined the route.
Mikey’s family and friends established a campaign in his name to express concern with the high rate of custody deaths in the United Kingdom. The Mikey Powell Campaign for Justice shows solidarity with other families that have lost loved ones within police, penal and mental health institutions across the country. They said; “We have vowed to lend our support to local, regional and national campaigns for justice and reform.”
The Powell family demands that openness; transparency and Police cooperation should be at the very heart of investigations into deaths in custody, and the Government must act on its own principles of ‘equality for all’ in ensuring that this is the case. The family of Mikey Powell, like families before us, never dreamt such tragedy could come so suddenly.
The campaign believes that there is a continuing systemic failure and complacency within a system that has not seen a single successful custody death prosecution of serving police officers since the killing of David Oluwale in 1969.
In October 2004 after the release of a Home Office report entitled ‘Statistics on Death During or Following Police Contact 2003/04’, Home Office Minister, Hazel Blears commented that, “There was an encouraging reduction in the number of deaths of people from minority ethnic communities from 22 in 2002/03 to 10 in 2003/04.”
The Powell family’s response to Hazel Blears was; “whether 22 or 10 deaths, this is still unacceptable. We must remember that for each of those 10 deaths there are 10 families that have lost loved ones in extremely traumatic circumstances, and who are up against the might and experience of top police legal representation, and Home Office and Crown Prosecution Service decisions, which have come out in favour of the police, prisons and other institutions consistently over many many years.”
Mikey Powell’s family struggle on
15 September 2011
IPCC takes over van complaint investigation
9 September 2011
WMPA to investigate the Chief Constable
7 September 2011
Jury Find Police Restraint Killed Mikey Powell
18 December 2009
Delay hits inquest over arrested dad death
16 June 2009
You can’t trust the police with your children’s lives
(by Benjamin Zephaniah)
5 August 2006
Officers cleared over death
2 August 2006
Police officers ran over suspect
14 September 2003