‘Accountable for Their Actions: Investigation Underway Into Circumstances Surrounding a Black Man’s Death After Being Repeatedly Tased by Police Before Jumping Into a River

London’s police department is under scrutiny after a video was released of officers tasering a Black man multiple times on the Chelsea Bridge Road in London before he fatally plunged off the bridge into waterway below.

Before his death, the man jumped into the River Thames to escape and had to be rescued by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution. Now an investigation has been launched to discover details of what happened.

Accountable for Their Actions: Investigation Underway Into Circumstances Surrounding a Black Man's Death After Being Repeatedly Tased by Police Before Jumping Into a River
Man who appeared to be suffering a mental crisis, jumped into River Thames after being tased multiple times (Video Screengrab)

On Saturday, June 4, the Metropolitan Police were called to the bridge in west London to respond to a disturbance report regarding a man acting erratically with a screwdriver around 9 a.m., the BBC reports.

Once on the scene, the officers unsuccessfully attempted to detain the man by tasering him. When police came closer to the man, he ran away and jumped into the historic river. The RNLI pulled him from the water and took him to the hospital. Once there, according to The Guardian, he was listed in “critical condition.” 

He died from his injuries shortly after while still under medical care in the hospital.

Video of the incident was captured by an eyewitness and shared on social media, sparking outrage.

The man, Black and apparently in his early 40s, is dressed in a red shirt and light blue shorts and is seen standing face to face with two officers before getting tased. The shock from the stun gun makes the man twist his body before falling to the ground. His body seems to go into convulsions before he rolls on the asphalt and kicks his feet uncontrollably. 

As he tries to get up, two officers, one white and the other Black, tell him to “get on the floor.” When he doesn’t, he is tased again. Like the time before, he falls to the ground, convulses, and rolls on the street. After crying out, he scampers to the side of the bridge and climbs over it to jump. Officers tried to stop him but could not.

A spokesperson said the RNLI immediately organized to save him from the river.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct has launched an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the incident.

The organization head Steve Noonan, shared, “We have spoken to the man’s family to express our sincere condolences and explain our involvement. Our sympathies remain with them at this terrible time.”

“Our independent investigation is underway into the police actions at the bridge and we have begun gathering and reviewing evidence,” he continued.

In an IOPC statement referencing the investigation, the group revealed, “Investigators have secured police body-worn video footage and initial accounts have been obtained from the officers involved.”

The group also has the Taser used in the incident and “will be analyzed.” Investigators are also conducting a forensic examination of the scene, reports note.

Commander Alexis Boon chimed in on the man’s death offering his “condolences” to the family.

“My thoughts are with the family of the man at this very difficult time,” Boon said. “I offer my sincere condolences to them for their tragic loss.”

He then explained the precarious position each officer in his department is placed in, saying, “Officers go to work every day to keep the public safe, and so any incident in which a person comes to harm following contact with police is understandably concerning.”

The officers, who are being questioned about excessive use of force, said the man challenged them before they discharged the Taser.

“Our officers face some of the most challenging and difficult situations daily, in doing so they are fully aware that their actions should rightly be subject to public scrutiny,” he continued before sharing what the department is doing to get to the bottom of the altercation that led to a civilian’s life.

“The Met’s directorate of professional standards made an immediate referral to the Independent Office for Police Conduct following this sad incident, and we will cooperate fully with them as they work to understand the full circumstances.”

The department further stated the deceased’s family will receive support from specialist officers. The nature of the support was not shared, but Det Ch Insp Rory Wilkinson said, “My thoughts are with this man, who is extremely unwell in hospital. Officers are making every effort to make contact with his family.”

“I understand that there are always concerns about incidents in which people come to harm having been in contact with police,” he continued acknowledging the community’s outrage at the uptick in police-involved violence in the city. 

“All Met officers know that they are accountable for their actions, and a full investigation is underway to establish exactly what happened,” Wilkinson said.

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