Nurse ‘scared’ by Sheku Bayoh fought to save his life in hospital, probe hears

A nurse who was scared by a man with a knife fought to save his life in hospital later on after he was restrained by police officers, an inquiry has heard.

Sheku Bayoh died on Sunday May 3 2015 after he was detained by officers in Kirkcaldy, Fife, and Linda Limbert told the inquiry into his death that as she was driving to work at Victoria Hospital, he approached her car in Hayfield Road.

She said she was “very frightened”, and told Angela Grahame QC, the inquiry’s senior counsel: “He was charging at my car with his arms flailing about.”

Ms Limbert said she had seen him with a knife in his hand, and as he approached the car she drove off.

Sheku Bayoh.

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In nearby Hendry Road she called 999 and told the call handler: “He was trying to stop me. When I realised what he had in his hands I just drove.”

On that day, Ms Limbert was a staff nurse at the Victoria Hospital. Later that morning, Mr Bayoh was sent to the resuscitation unit and she was one of the medical staff who helped fight to save his life.

He was brought in to accident and emergency by ambulance, and Ms Limbert told the inquiry: “I don’t know him, but I recognised him as the guy I had just seen.”

When the 31-year-old arrived in hospital he was handcuffed and unresponsive, she said, and had ongoing CPR from ambulance and police crews at the scene.

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Linda Limbert gave evidence to the inquiry

Ms Limbert said the handcuffs had to be removed, but did not interfere, and was with Mr Bayoh until he was declared dead.

She said she could not recall any injuries sustained by him, but said CPR and gaining IV access can cause injuries.

The inquiry was told officers arrived on scene at 7:21am, and seconds later the control room was told an officer had been punched in the back of the head.

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Shortly after acting police sergeant Scott Maxwell told the control room: “Just for the log the initial attendance this male has attacked Pc Short quite violently. As a result he was sprayed with CS and Pava and battened, there maybe a suggestion he was battened to the head area.”

Sheku's mother Aminata Bayoh (left) with daughter Kosna Bayoh arriving at Capital House in Edinburgh for the public inquiry

Inspector Steven Stewart, the duty officer in the area control room on the day of the incident, has been taking the inquiry through the communications the day of Mr Bayoh’s death.

He said the phrase was “just for the log” was “police jargon”.

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“My take on that is APS Maxwell is saying just for the log, can you put on the incident this is what happened on initial attendance,” he said, and added: “Just for the log is ‘can you record it’ on the incident, is my interpretation.”

Before they detained the man Mr Stewart told officers to “make an initial assessment yourself and feed back,” but said he never received that and in a phone call later that day described how quickly everything happened.

And in another phone call at 9.25am, the inquiry heard a recording discussing media questions about the incident, and how doctors were still working on reviving him but it “wasn’t looking good for him just now” but to keep “quite tight-lipped about it”.

He told Ms Grahame that was to make sure information on the “significant” event wasn’t shared. “It’s really important that it stays within the control room or within police and not shared out informally through people,” he said.

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Ms Grahame asked him if it “made any difference whatsoever to the work that you were doing in the control room that Mr Bayoh was black”, to which he told her: “No.”

“Are you aware of certain stereotypes regarding black people, say for example we’ve heard in the audio he was the ‘size of a house’ and there maybe stereotypes that black people are bigger or more aggressive or less compliant,” she asked him.

He told the inquiry he was aware of stereotypes like that, and he currently runs an equality and diversity team and has had training in the area.

Earlier, the inquiry heard that Alan Pearson was driving with his wife in his car when Mr Bayoh was first seen in Templehall Avenue in the Hayfield area of Kirkcaldy at around 7am.

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He told the inquiry that his wife “saw a man walking along the street with what appeared to be a knife in his hand”.

“She says to me: ‘That guy’s got a knife,’ and I thought: ‘Don’t be daft, it’s 7am on Sunday morning.'”

After Mr Pearson dropped his wife off at his sister-in-law’s house, he then started to make his way home, and in Hayfield Place saw the man look like he was trying to stop a passing taxi. Mr Pearson said it looked like the man had banged on the car’s roof.

“Once the taxi sped off he did what anybody would do, he turned to face the taxi and face me, although not looking at me,” he said.

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“When he turned around he put his hands out, palms up, that’s when I saw what looked like a knife in his right hand.”

Mr Pearson then turned around and drove in a different direction.

He described the knife as “maybe six or seven inches” long, but when he was shown a knife on a container at the Capital House inquiry, Mr Pearson told inquiry he could not recognise the blade being used as evidence, and that he only saw it from a distance.

The witness told the inquiry he was not scared, and added: “It’s not as if he was coming towards my car, he was just standing there.”

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Mr Pearson said he warned another driver, and then in Hendry Road called 999 and told the call handler: “There’s a guy in the middle of the street with a knife in his hands.”

In his brief telephone call with the 999 operator, he was told a blade size.

“I never told the handler the size of the knife at the time,” Mr Pearson told the inquiry. “The call handler says ‘nine-inch blade’, but I never said the size of the knife.”

Dashcam and mobile phone footage was played in the court, which showed Mr Bayoh walking in the street with vehicles turning around in front on him.

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Simon Rowe, a taxi driver, said he saw Mr Bayoh carrying a knife, and said he saw him from a distance of about 20 metres (65ft).

He told Ms Grahame Mr Bayoh was “walking with purpose”.

“(He was) not strolling, (it was) like he had somewhere to be or somewhere to go, is the best way to describe it.”

Mr Rowe said he then phoned 101 from the hands-free of his taxi to tell them he had seen a man with a “big kitchen knife”.

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The inquiry is to examine the immediate circumstances leading to the death of Mr Bayoh, how the police dealt with the aftermath, the following investigation, and whether race was a factor.

The inquiry, before Lord Bracadale, continues.