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LATE REGGAE icon Smiley Culture’s family has gathered at his grave to mark the first anniversary of his death.
The Cockney Translation singer, whose real name was David Emmanuel, died under controversial circumstances during a police raid at his Surrey home on March 15 last year.
Earlier today (March 15), Smiley Culture’s nephew, Merlin Emmanuel said he and other family members visited the grave and then gathered for dinner and to share memories of him.
“We will remember his life rather than focus on his death,” he said.
Police claimed Smiley Culture stabbed himself with a kitchen knife during the 2011 police raid but Smiley’s Culture relatives and several voice readers have rejected this view. Angry over his death, hundreds of protesters also marched through London to gather outside London police headquarters, Scotland Yard, on April 16, 2011. They called for action over deaths in police custody.
Last September, after investigating cops' actions during Smiley’s death, police watchdog the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) said officers involved in a raid that pre-empted the reggae singer’s death would not face any disciplinary action.
Emmanuel told The Voice: “We are coping. We are a resilient people.
Obviously, if we thought we had been accorded some kind of justice we would feel a little bit better. But even justice itself can’t bring Smiley back through the door so it is what it is. We miss him and the circumstances under which he died compounds the reality (for) the worse.”
MARCHING FOR JUSTICE: Merlin Emmanuel (centre) is joined by campaigners and other families who have lost loved ones in police custody as he marched to London police headquarters, Scotland Yard, on April 16 last year in protest of Smiley Culture's death. Pic: PA.
Emmanuel said the family has not had the heart to remind Smiley’s frail elderly mother about the one-year anniversary of his death.
But he said family members were working with others and were nearly ready to open a service to help other grieving families.
“Campaign for Justice (which) is an organisation I am setting up on behalf of Smiley and all those who have lost loved ones in police custody is almost concluded,” he said. “There’s going to be a website and a 24-hour service that provides counselling, emotional support and legal advice and campaign awareness initiatives for those who have lost loved ones in police custody…within a couple of months.”
Emmanuel said he has already secured a building for the centre and has received support pledges from volunteers from legal and other circles. “We’ll soon be there, certainly by May,” he said.
Emmanuel said the death of Smiley Culture has also helped bring campaigning families and campaigning groups even closer together.
“A lot of good things are happening through Smiley’s death. We’re still pulling and tugging at the walls of the IPCC and a lot of progress has been made in that regard.”
In a letter to family of the late musician last year, IPCC commissioner Mike Franklin wrote: ‘On this occasion the investigation has identified aspects of the operation which were not satisfactory, and criticism has been made of some of the officers' actions.
‘However, these do not meet the threshold for misconduct under the police misconduct system.’
He said no evidence was found “which would suggest any criminal acts were committed by any of the officers in the house" and, therefore, had no grounds to refer the case to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).
Emmanuel and others have called for a public inquiry into deaths in custody and the reform of the IPCC.