REGGAE STAR: Smiley Culture, real name David Emmanuel
REGGAE MUSICIAN Smiley Culture “violently struggled” as he collapsed to the floor with a knife in his chest, an inquest heard last week.
On March 15, 2011, Smiley, real name David Emmanuel, died as a result of stab wounds he received during a police raid on his home as part of a drug investigation.
Police claim the Cockney Translation singer stabbed himself with a large kitchen knife as four officers searched the mansion in upmarket Hillbury Road, in Warlingham, Surrey.
The allegations were met with disbelief by members of the community, who marched through central London demanding answers over the suspicious death.
The four police officers who were in the house at the time have been granted anonymity – only to be known as witness one, two, three or four – and are giving evidence at the hearing at Woking Borough Civic Offices from behind screens.
According to witness one, on the morning of the raid, the 48-year-old’s behaviour suddenly changed from “calm” and “relaxed” to “enraged” as he waited in the kitchen, while three police officers searched his home.
The jury in the inquest was told that witness one left the kitchen to take a phone call and the Stockwell-born entertainer was left seated under the supervision of witness two.
The court heard that witness one attempted to restrain Emmanuel by reaching for his left arm and lowering him to the floor after he began screaming and shouting – at which point the police officer said he first noticed a “large” knife sticking out of his chest.
Claiming to be worried that the reggae artist would cause further injury to himself, or possibly injure another police officer, witness one said he tried to keep Emmanuel’s hands away from the knife.
Home Office pathologist Robert Chapman in his testimony said it was “impossible to say” who inflicted the chest wound because while it was “consistent with self-infliction”, the location and the angle of the wound “do not exclude actions by someone else.”
SUSPICIONS: A campaign was launched seeking answers over Smiley’s death
He added that no defensive injuries were found on Emmanuel’s hands.
Dr Chapman said the singer had a “relatively high concentration” of the cannabis compound THC in his bloodstream, which showed that he had used the Class B drug within an hour of his death.
But the musician’s niece, who had received a phone call from the house in the middle of the search, described her uncle as “calm and a little bewildered.”
Witness one had been employed for around nine years as a Metropolitan police officer and claimed to have previous experience dealing with Emmanuel. He deemed Emmanuel as a having a “low risk” of harming himself, police officers or the public.
The records showed that a raid conducted at Emmanuel’s house on July 3, 2010, at around 2am, which witness one was also a part of, the south Londoner was described as a “cautious, polite, respectful and pleasant individual”.
The Police National Computer – which identifies potential risks associated with suspects or previously convicted individuals – listed no signs of suicide or mental illness, the jury heard.
Following the raid in November 2010, the police decided to further investigate Emmanuel, when it was decided that he should be arrested before his impending court trial.
On the day of his death, Emmanuel was awaiting trial at Croydon Crown Court on suspicion of supplying Class A drugs, to which the reggae musician had pleaded not guilty.
The court case was due to take place a week after his death.
Emmanuel had worked with Maxi Priest and Papa Levi and saw his singles, Cockney Translation and Police Officer, reach the British music charts in 1984.
The inquest, which opened on Wednesday, June 12, is expected to last three weeks.