The family of a vulnerable Black man who died after being arrested and detained during a mental health crisis spoke out about his death.
Godrick Osei died on July 3 after police were called to a nursing home in Truro, Cornwall, where the 35-year-old was hiding in a closet in the early hours.
The father of two had fled the apartment he shared with his wife after a psychotic episode and expressed “paranoid thoughts”, his family said. Nursing home staff also called 999, while Osei himself called the police.
About seven police officers from Devon and Cornwall Police arrived at around 2.30pm and arrested Osei before paramedics were called at 2.49pm. Osei died soon after.
The death is being investigated by the Independent Police Conduct Office (IOPC). His family, who watched the police footage of Osei’s death, say that Osei sought help from the police, but instead broke into the closet where the policemen were hiding and several people restrained him in a small area.
Little sister Lewison Osei said: “Godrick didn’t want to hurt anyone – he was a big, kind giant, a caring man who always tried to do something for others, for his children. In addition to his two children, he is a father to his girlfriend’s two-year-old daughter. He was such a man.
He needed help. Our brother should not have died that day.”
Originally from east London, Osei had been diagnosed with anxiety and depression and also suffered from drug addiction. In the days before his death, community mental health workers who evaluated Osei said he also showed signs of a personality disorder.
His sister Maryann added: “This still doesn’t feel real. My brother is gone and why? We don’t know.”
None of the officers involved in the incident were suspended or investigated.
Jodie Anderson of the family-supporting charity Inquest said: “The circumstances of Godrick’s death raise serious questions about the use of force by the police at a time of increasing public scrutiny. It also highlights the issues surrounding police responses to the mental health crisis.
“It is in the public interest that all officials involved are subject to full and fearless investigation and, where necessary, held accountable for their actions. The officers involved remain witnesses, not subjects, of this investigation.
“They are on active duty and not yet the subject of criminal prosecution or even an investigation. This cannot be true.”
Cyrilia Knight of Saunders Law, representing the family, said: Independent: “This is the tragic death of a vulnerable young Black man in circumstances that warrant the greatest scrutiny. Vulnerable people in a mental health crisis are particularly susceptible to death following restraint.
“Family needs answers to determine if things could have been done differently to avoid this tragedy”.
The IOPC added that its investigation is progressing, adding: “At this stage, there is no indication that any of the officers involved has violated the professional standards of the police or committed a crime, this decision is reviewed regularly. The police officers’ interaction with the man and their actions are necessary, proportionate in the situation they face. We are conducting a thorough and independent investigation, carefully examining whether it is reasonable and reasonable.”
Devon and Cornwall police declined to comment.