DEATH: Sean Rigg died at Brixton police station after being restrained by officers on his front, known as the “prone position”
POLICE COMMISSIONER Bernard Hogan-Howe has come under fire for allowing an officer involved in Sean Rigg’s death to resign before facing misconduct proceedings.
On August 21, 2008, Rigg, 40 – who was diagnosed with schizophrenia – died at Brixton police station after being restrained by officers on his chest, known as the “prone position”.
An inquest in 2012, found that the father-of-one was fit and healthy when he was arrested, and that the police had used “unsuitable force”.
Since then, an independent review heavily criticised the original Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) investigation, forcing them to re-open disciplinary and criminal investigations into Rigg’s death.
PC Birks and the other officers involved were facing the prospect of disciplinary action.
However, his resignation was submitted and accepted before the IPCC were able to serve him with notices under misconduct regulations.
Rigg’s family is calling on Hogan-Howe to urgently withdraw his acceptance of the resignation. His sister Marcia said the family was “livid”.
She added: “There is no doubt in our minds that this decision by PC Birks was taken to avoid the risk of him being held accountable for his conduct.
DECISIONS: Police Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe has been asked to "urgently withdraw his acceptance" of PC Birks resignation
“It was wrong for the Commissioner, Sir Bernard Hogan Howe, to accept his resignation. He was wholly aware of the position PC Birks was in.”
She also criticised the IPCC saying she was “alarmed” that they did not consider advising the MPS to suspend all the officers involved.
Deborah Coles, co-director of INQUEST said: “It is unacceptable that police officers are able to evade accountability for wrongdoing and frustrate the justice process in this way. This is not an isolated case but part of a systemic problem that allows the police to remain above the law.”
Neville Lawrence OBE, father of Stephen Lawrence who was brutally murdered in a racist attack in 1993 said described the resignation as “outrageous”.
He added: “Only one officer involved in the investigation of Stephen’s murder faced disciplinary action – the other officers had all retired before they could be held to account. Police officers must face up to the wrongs they have done.”
A spokesperson from Scotland Yard confirmed that the resignation.
And added: “The MPS received a letter from the IPCC requesting we withdraw the acceptance of the officer's resignation. This is being considered.”