Reggae star Smiley Culture stabbed himself during police raid

Smiley Culture Smiley Culture died during a police search of his home in Warlingham

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Reggae star Smiley Culture took his own life by stabbing himself in the chest during a police raid at his home, an inquest jury has decided.

The 48-year-old singer, real name David Emmanuel, died at the property in Warlingham, Surrey, in March 2011 during a search by Met Police officers.

Coroner Richard Travers said he would be suggesting changes to the way police supervised prisoners during searches.

Scotland Yard said it would fully consider the coroner's recommendations.

The inquest, in Woking, heard the singer, who rose to fame in the 1980s with a number of reggae-rap-style songs, stabbed himself after being arrested at his home in Hillbury Road during a police drugs investigation.

The hearing was told the officer charged with supervising the singer also had responsibility for completing paperwork related to the search.

Contributory factor

Returning the verdict, the jury foreman said: "David Victor Emmanuel took his own life.

"Although the tragic events... were unforeseeable, giving one officer the responsibility of supervising Mr Emmanuel and, at the same time the premises search book, was a contributory factor in his death."

The jury, which reached a majority verdict on Mr Emmanuel's death, said he stood up and "obtained a knife from an unknown location".

Start Quote

The dynamic assessments made by officers on the 15 March 2011 were left wanting”

End Quote Mike Franklin IPCC commissioner

Mr Emmanuel's cousin, Merlin Emmanuel, said after the verdict: "We have lost an integral part of our family.

"He had a lot of hope and he had a lot to live for.

"Why he should have wanted to end his life in that way I do not know, but I do not think he should have been in a position to do that."

'Unforeseeable' escalation

Scotland Yard said in a statement: "The inquest heard how a seemingly calm situation unexpectedly escalated into an incident which was to have the most tragic of consequences.

"As the jury have stated, this escalation was unforeseeable. The response of the officers involved was immediate, with an ambulance called while emergency first aid was administered in a concerted attempt to save Mr Emmanuel's life.

Protesters with sign saying: 'Who killed Smiley Culture?' Hundreds of people joined a march to Scotland Yard following Smiley Culture's death

"We recognise that the jury have made comment on the fact that a single officer was supervising Mr Emmanuel whilst also completing the search record, and we will fully consider any recommendations made by the coroner in this regard."

The Independent Police Complaints Commission recommended no disciplinary action, but commissioner Mike Franklin said: "The ongoing dynamic assessments made by officers on the 15 March 2011 were left wanting.

"Four experienced officers felt it appropriate to detain a suspect in the kitchen, potentially the most dangerous room in the house, and afforded him a level of freedom not normally associated with an operation of this kind.

"The IPCC has made a series of recommendations to the Metropolitan Police following this investigation, presenting them with areas that should be reviewed and changed in light of the findings.

"I hope that this inquest has provided Mr Emmanuel's family with some of the answers they and the community have so patiently waited for."

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