Bent coppers and strange deaths

OVER 150 angry protesters demonstrated outside Stoke Newington police station on the Friday before Christmas following the death of Shiji Lapite. Shiji died on December 16 in the back of a police van.

During the three hour demon-stration protesters ignored the police barriers and blocked the main road. On the same day the British Embassy in Nigeria was also picketed by family and friends.

Local police have claimed that they arrested Shiji on suspicion of possessing drugs. When stopped, they claim, he threw away a bag which contained crack cocaine. However, his family has been given three different versions of his arrest and where the drugs were found.

What is not in doubt is that within 20 minutes of being put in the van he was dead. Shiji’s family saw a number of marks on his body consistent with a beating, including cuts to the face. A Home Office postmortem was inconclusive. Shiji’s family has now organised a second examination and has arranged for an independent autopsy. Two plain clothes police officers have been suspended while an investigation is carried out.

From last summer police from the station have been regaining their reputation for violence. Since the early 70s a number of people have died in mysterious circumstances in the ‘care’ of Stoke Newington police.

An investigation into police corruption - ‘Operation Jackpot’ - has highlighted years of accusations about police corruption at the station, including the planting and selling of drugs.

Tony Coughlin