Lewisham custody death man 'beloved role model'

Kevin Clarke Image copyright Inquest
Image caption Kevin Clarke was described by his family as a 'gifted footballer' and a 'role model'

A man who died after being restrained by police was a "father figure and a role model", his family said.

Kevin Clarke, 35, "appeared to be having a mental health crisis" when police were called to a road in Catford, south-east London, on March 9.

He died in hospital later that day.

An investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) is ongoing, but an inquest into Mr Clarke's death was suspended on Wednesday.

In a statement after the inquest hearing at Southwark Coroner's Court, Mr Clarke's family said: "Kevin was well-known and loved in our community and we will truly miss him.

"He was a father figure and a role model to so many, even when he was going through his difficult times."

'Police may be criticised'

The family, who are being supported by the charity, Inquest, said Mr Clarke was a gifted footballer and coach.

They said they have "so many questions" about his death and urged the IOPC to complete their investigation as quickly as possible.

The watchdog has taken statements taken from nine police officers.

Jade Cunningham, from the IOPC, told the court that criminal proceedings remain a "possibility", but no decision has been reached.

Coroner Andrew Harris acknowledged it was a death in which the police "may be criticised".

Image copyright Google
Image caption Officers were called to Polsted Road, Lewisham, to reports of a man trying to enter back gardens

He suspended the inquest pending the IOPC investigation, telling the family that results of toxicology tests may take up to five months to come back.

Det Ch Supt Tara McGovern, of Lewisham Police, said it was "right and proper" that the watchdog was looking into the circumstances of Mr Clarke's death.

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