George Floyd death: Olaseni Lewis’s mother ‘can’t watch’ US arrest video

Olaseni Lewis Image copyright Family website
Image caption Olaseni Lewis died in 2010 after his brain was starved of oxygen while he was restrained by police officers

A woman cannot watch footage of George Floyd’s arrest in the US saying it is too similar to how her son died.

Aji Lewis’s son Olaseni, 23, died in 2010 soon after he was restrained by police officers at a London hospital.

“I can’t watch” what happened to Mr Floyd who died in Minneapolis “because the very thing Seni was saying was ‘I can’t breathe’,” she said.

An inquest concluded in 2017 that “excessive force” was used by 11 police officers on Mr Lewis.

Six police officers have since however, been cleared of gross misconduct over his death.

IT graduate Mr Lewis – who was also known as Seni – never regained consciousness after he was restrained for two prolonged periods of 10 and 20 minutes, at Bethlem Royal Hospital, Beckenham.

He died a few days later in hospital, his brain having been starved of oxygen.

Image caption Aji Lewis said police were not being held accountable for their actions

Ms Lewis said that since her son’s death there had been “numerous instances” that were similar but police were not being held accountable.

“Many other families, predominately black, we have heard our loved ones say ‘I can’t breathe’,” she said.

“People think it’s only happening in America. It’s not, it’s happening here.”

The misconduct hearing into what happened to Mr Lewis found any failings of officers had been “performance matters”.

Ms Lewis said there was “no accountability” for officers “and until there is you don’t feel as if there’s any justice really”.

At the time, Scotland Yard said those officers involved had “set out that day to do their very best”, while the force had also “fundamentally changed” how it “responds to someone in a mental health crisis”.

Met Commissioner Cressida Dick has also spoken about the death of Mr Floyd on 25 May, saying “like everybody, we have been appalled by the images we saw”.

“We know that justice and accountability must follow and will follow, I’m sure,” she said.