published: February 2018
“I could never have imagined that almost ten years after his death I’d still be fighting for justice for my brother, Sean Rigg.”
Sean, a 40-year-old black British musician, apparently became unwell and suddenly collapsed and died in police custody in the summer of 2008. Practically naked wearing only speedos and handcuffs, he lay on the cold concrete floor at the entrance of Brixton custody suite. Sean died on camera inside a cramped caged holding cell, surrounded by, and at the feet of, 5-6 police officers.
Towards the end of what I call a ‘cut throat battle’, I have learnt that true justice is unlikely, probably impossible. I mean… seriously, you couldn’t make my story up! On the other hand, deaths and stories like mine re-occur again and again. But why? I mean… we are talking about a death here, and that’s very serious is it not?
In the decade that I’ve fought for answers, I have faced an endlessly lengthy and unbalanced justice system. And despite a string of reviews, inquiries, set of recommendations calling for changes to police conduct, a damning inquest jury verdict, and a mass media campaign, no officer or institution has been held accountable for Sean’s death.
This has led me and many others to feel that there is no real justice or penalty for state wrongdoing. This destroys public trust and fuels resentment among Black communities who feel targeted and harshly treated. My story is just one of many. Our family has experienced unimaginable trauma, disappointment and exhaustion.