An inquiry has been launched into the death of a man who died in police custody and has been described by his family as “Scotland’s George Floyd”.
Sheku Bayoh, 31, died in May 2015 after he was restrained by officers responding to a call in Kirkcaldy, Fife.
His family say that race played a part in his death and criticized the subsequent investigation into the officers’ conduct on the night of Mr Bayoh’s death.
A public inquiry into the surrounding circumstances Mr Bayoh’s death commences on Tuesday in Edinburgh, chaired by Lord Bracadale.
Mr Bayoh, who worked for British Gas, was father to then four-month-old Isaac and Tyler, his three-year-old son by a previous partner.
In a statement released on behalf of Mr Bayoh’s family, lawyer Aamer Anwar said: “The Bayoh family have described Sheku as Scotland’s George Floydthe only difference they believe is that despite seven years of struggle, the Bayohs have never seen justice and are yet to hear the whole truth.”
He said Mr Bayoh “was face down on the ground in less than 50 seconds” and was restrained by up to seven officers.
The lawyer said Mr Bayoh was handcuffed, had ankle and leg restraints applied to him and soon died.
“His body was covered with over 24 separate lacerations, cuts, bruises, and a broken rib,” he added.
The public inquiry was announced in 2019 after it was confirmed there would be no criminal charges in the case.
Mr Anwar said there were “repeated attempts to criminalise, stereotype and smear” Mr Bayoh – it has been maintained that he was empty-handed at the time of his arrest.
Deborah Coles, director of the justice charity Inquest, who has been working with the family, said that the inquiry was a “watershed moment” in Scotland for examining issues around institutional racism.
She said: “Those entrusted with the role of policing must be subject to accountability before the law. The disproportionate use of force against black people by police, in the UK and internationally, is well documented.”
A vigil outside of Capital House on Lothian Road, Edinburgh, will also begin on Tuesday.
Mr Anwar said the public inquiry will commence two years after the former Lord Advocate advised the Bayoh family that “not one police officer would face charges” for his death.
In 2020 the death of George Floyd, 46, who died after being arrested by police outside a shop in Minneapolis, Minnesota, sparked Black Lives Matter protests across the world and international outrage.
Former police officer Derek Chauvin was jailed for 22-and-a-half years after a video showed him with his knee on the neck of Mr Floyd for more than nine minutes while arresting him.