INVESTIGATORS probing the death of a man in police custody nearly four months ago have yet to determine how he died.
The family of Sheku Bayoh yesterday met Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland following the submission of an interim report by the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (Pirc) earlier this month.
Mr Bayoh, 31, died following an incident in Kirkcaldy on 3 May during which a female officer was also injured.
The Crown Office yesterday said there remained a “number of complex issues” relating to the cause of Mr Bayoh’s death.
It followed a meeting between the Lord Advocate and members of Mr Bayoh’s family, who said they had “lost confidence” in the Pirc investigation.
The family’s lawyer, Aamer Anwar, said: “There has been much speculation about the cause of death, which is still to be determined.
“The possibility of positional asphyxiation didn’t come from the family but came directly from the Crown. The family is concerned the investigation has focused all of its energy on everything apart from what the police did to restrain Sheku Bayoh.”
Mr Anwar claimed six officers had been involved in the incident, during which they used handcuffs and ankle restraints.
He added: “The family informed the Lord Advocate that 16 weeks after the death of Sheku Bayoh in police custody they have lost confidence in the Pirc investigation.”
It has been suggested that a Fatal Accident Inquiry will be held into Mr Bayoh’s death, but Mr Anwar said the family did not regard an FAI as “a panacea”.
In a statement released through her lawyer, Mr Bayoh’s partner, Colette Bell, said: “I believe that if the police hadn’t treated my Sheku the way they did, he would be here today. I am fed up of the lies and the attempt to blame Sheku for his own death.”
A Crown Office spokesman: “There remains work to be done by Pirc before their investigation is complete. The Crown will take the Pirc report into account when carrying out its own investigations and will assess whether or not there should be a criminal prosecution.
“In order for any criminal prosecution to happen, there must be sufficient evidence that a crime has been committed.
“The family have been advised, by the Lord Advocate, that as part of the ongoing investigation there are a number of complex issues relating to the cause of death and experts in the field have been instructed to assist in dealing with these issues.
“The Lord Advocate has reiterated the undertaking previously given to the family that the enquiry will be thorough and completed as soon as is possible.”
A spokesman for the Pirc added: “On 7 August, the Commissioner delivered an interim report of the investigation’s findings which are now being considered by the Lord Advocate. The Commissioner continues to work closely with the Lord Advocate to investigate complex lines of enquiry, including gathering further expert opinion in relation to the cause of death.”