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Birmingham - 3rd police custody death in 11 months

No justice, No Peace, Fuck the Police! | 28.06.2011 10:53 | Anti-racism | Repression | Birmingham

Demetre Fraser - 31st May 2011

Kingsley Burrell - 30th March 2011

Lloyd Butler - 4 August 2011

Mum demands police officers are suspended after son's death

By Trudy Simpson,Voice Online, 23 June 2011

The mother of a man who died after falling from the 11th floor of a tower block during a police visit, is demanding the officers involved be suspended.

According to reports, Demetre Fraser, a 21-year-old from Peckham, south London, is said to have fallen or jumped on May 31 from Birmingham tower block, where he was temporarily staying while on bail, during a visit from two officers.

West Midlands Police told The Voice today (June 23) in a statement, that officer's found Fraser's body at the foot of the tower block when they came to speak with him about a reported breach of his curfew conditions.

But his mother, Jossette Fraser, disputed their explanation and claims neighbours told her they overheard a huge commotion on the morning Fraser died.

"There is no way he jumped from that window and committed suicide," she told The Voice.

She added: "My family and Demetre's friends are all in a state of deep shock and disbelief. His girlfriend is beside herself and we are demanding that West Midlands Police immediately suspend the two officers concerned whilst we get to the bottom of what actually happened."

Demetre was on bail as a result of a petty assault charge following a dispute with his girlfriend, but the compliant was subsequently withdrawn. His bail conditions were that he was to reside outside of London and be at home during set hours.

But on May 31 at around 9am, West Midlands Police visited Fraser believing he had breached his conditions.

"They are trying to tell me my son jumped off an 11th floor balcony and killed himself. Why? His girlfriend had withdrawn the charge against him and he knew that. He was waiting for the Crown Prosecution Service or the police to formally tell him so he could come home," Fraser's mother said.

"He was reunited with his girl and looking forward to coming home and his friends spoke to him every day.

"The idea that my son committed suicide is some sort of sick joke. Black men are not safe in police custody. Demetre, Smiley Culture and Kingsley Burrell proves that."

His death comes just months after Kingsley Burrell, in Birmingham, and Smiley Culture, in Surrey, also died following contact with police on March 15 and March 31, respectively.

Campaigners Maxi Hayles, of Birmingham Racial Attacks Monitoring Unit (BRAMU), and activist Lee Jasper, expressed outrage over the situation.

"It's taking us back to the 1980s," Lee Jasper told The Voice. "We have (had) this increase in deaths in custody in a short space of time."

Hayles added: "They need to immediately suspend the officers involved in Demetre's case. We have just lost Smiley then Kingsley Burrell and now, within weeks, this young man. How much more can we take?"

A West Midlands spokesperson told The Voice: "We can confirm that the IPCC was informed on June 1 about the death of a 21-year-old man from Druids Heath in South Birmingham whose body was found at the foot of the tower block in which he lived. The discovery was made after officers had visited the address in an attempt to speak to the man about his alleged breach of court-imposed curfew conditions.

"The referral to the IPCC is standard procedure under protocol relating to the death or serious injury of anyone who may have had recent contact with the police. Having considered the circumstances, the IPCC has since referred the matter back to West Midlands Police's Professional Standards Dept who will carry out an internal inquiry into the matter."

On Saturday, July 2, Fraser's mother, Burrell's sister, Kadisha Burrell, and Smiley Culture's nephew, Merlin Emmanuel, are expected to speak out at a second March for Justice in Birmingham. One was held in London on April 16.

It is part of an ongoing campaign to get the Government to change legislation regarding accountability and deaths in police custody.

Burrell, a young father, had called the police to help him because he feared gang intimidation but he was arrested under duress and later died in hospital.

Smiley Culture's family members have disputed claims that he stabbed himself after officers raided his home in Warlingham, Surrey.

Actor and musician Ashley Walters and other big names have lent their support to the July 2 march.

No justice, No Peace, Fuck the Police!