Family demands answers in violent custody death of young man
by Mikey Powell Campaign
Originally published 2 Nov 2004
News updates on this case listed at the foot of this item
On 22nd November 2003 dozens of people chanted ‘What do we want? Justice! When do we want it? Now!’ as they marched through the streets of Brixton, London to protest the death of Ricky Bishop. The demonstration took place on the second anniversary of the killing of 25 year old Ricky Bishop, while in police custody and after a subsequent inquiry was labelled a whitewash by campaigners.
While the full circumstances of his death are still not known, what is clear is that on the afternoon of Thursday 22nd November 2001, Ricky was in a car with a friend when the police began to follow them. The police stopped them on Dalyell Road, a residential area of Brixton, and were subsequently taken to Brixton police station.
Later in the evening the police informed Ricky’s mother that he was in King’s College Hospital, and shortly after her arrival she was told Ricky had died. There are numerous unanswered questions. Ricky had cuts around his mouth and wrists, and injuries to his legs.
How did he get these injuries? Why was there no medical attention provided at the police station for his injuries? What was the reason for Ricky’s admission to hospital?
It is alleged that during his detention, drugs were pushed into Ricky’s mouth and elaborate stories made up by the officers to justify the arrest and a violent assault of him. Ricky’s sister Rhonda said, “Two police officers held Ricky to the ground whilst he was having a heart attack, only then did they go and call for a paramedic.”
The family have never had an explanation as to why it took several hours for police to notify them of Ricky’ arrest and admission to hospital, and had grave concerns that the police issued a misleading press release before informing the family of its contents.
At an inquest into Ricky’s death, the Coroner concluded that he had died from ‘misadventure,’ a verdict which exonerated the police and angered his family and supporters. According to accounts by witnesses and his family, however, Ricky Bishop was stopped, arrested, and taken to Brixton police station, where he was assaulted and brutalized by police officers. They believe that the inquest was flawed as vital evidence was withheld by the Metropolitan Police.
The jury were only given a choice of three verdicts; death by misadventure, narrative, and an open verdict. The latter two are methods of arriving at a verdict without assigning blame to anyone. None of the eight police officers involved in this death have been suspended or prosecuted. They remain on active duty.
Ricky’s family and their supporters are now looking into initiating private prosecutions against the officers involved.
Rupert Sylvester, father of Roger Sylvester, who was also killed in police custody, spoke at the November rally. “We’re here to support the Bishop family,” he said. “We were in Birmingham last week to support the Mikey Powell family. Wherever there is some action, be it Brixton or Timbuktu, we will be there.”
Doreen Bishop, Ricky Bishop’s mother, told protesters. “We need to build a movement to stop police brutality. If it takes the rest of my life that’s what I’ll do.”
Ricky Bishop died in custody
1 December 2001
Black family want answers from the Met
1 December 2001
2014 Protest in London (Video)
Following the 10th national United Families and Friends Campaign march to Downing Street, a march was called in Brixton to highlight the death of Ricky Bishop, who died while in custody at Brixton Police Station.
25-year-old Ricky was arrested following a street stop-and-search that revealed no evidence against him. This short film covering the protest explains in detail what happened to Ricky the night he died.