Inquest into 2011 death hears reggae singer 'changed completely' during arrest

The jury at an inquest into the death of Smiley Culture in 2011 has heard how the reggae singer plunged a kitchen knife into his own chest after being arrested at his home.

Informing jurors about the police testimonies they’re due to hear over the coming weeks, Surrey coroner Richard Travers explained that a police officer – named only as Witness 2 after being granted anonymity by the court – claims that the singer had “changed completely” following what had started out as a routine police search on his home. Witness 2 also claims that Smiley Culture, real name David Emmanuel, changed “very suddenly and without warning” before producing a large kitchen knife and threatening police officers.

Speaking at a courthouse in Woking yesterday (June 12), Travers continued: “You will hear from Witness 2 that, when they were coming to the end of the search, Mr Emmanuel very suddenly and without warning stood up and Witness 2 realised for the first time that he, Mr Emmanuel, had a large kitchen knife in his hand. The officer says that he shouted out ‘knife’ so as to warn his colleagues, at which point, Mr Emmanuel, he says, held out his arm and screamed at Witness 2 ‘Do you fucking want some of this?’ Or ‘What about this?'”

“Witness 2 will tell you that Mr Emmanuel’s face and body language had completely changed, he became angry and was screaming. He will tell you that he, Mr Emmanuel, then held the knife with both hands and plunged it into his own chest.”

According to Travers, four Metropolitan Police officers went to Mr Emmanuel’s home on March 15, 2011 to arrest the singer and search the premises in relation to allegations of conspiring to import class A drugs into the UK. The Guardian reports that Travers informed the jurors they would hear Witness 2’s account of being in the kitchen with Mr Emmanuel while the other three officers searched the house.

“For his part you will hear from Witness 2’s evidence, Mr Emmanuel to be relaxed and they chatted about a variety of things,” Travers told the jury. “Mr Emmanuel was allowed to make himself a mug of tea on more than one occasion.”

In 2011, the Independent Police Complaints Commission (‘IPCC’) cleared officers of committing any criminal offences during the operation, after having previously ruled that they found no evidence that could lead to charges of misconduct .

In 2011, the IPCC said that the investigation into his death was deemed “not satisfactory” but the criticism was not strong enough to start misconduct procedures.