‘Objectively justified’ and politically sanctioned: Rethinking the deaths of black men who encountered the police of England and Wales.

Event Details: Between April and November 2017, five Black men – Nuno Cardoso, Edir ‘Edson’ da Costa, Leroy ‘Junior’ Medford, Rashan Charles and Darren Cumberbatch – were amongst those killed by police in England. To date, no police officer has been held to account for any of these deaths (INQUEST 2022, Williams et al forthcoming). Through the narratives and disclosures of bereaved family members, this paper surfaces the drivers of police violence that eventuates the death of black men. Considered throughout, we contend with the practice of erasure and omission which serves to reframe police-related deaths away from the racialised drivers of police encounters and shifts culpability upon those who are killed. Provocatively, this paper contends that deaths in police custody or “institutional killings” are the inevitable outcomes of CJ processes that attribute risk and riskiness upon racially minoritized groups and communities and related to racialised constructions of crime and criminality. As such, institutional killings endure as an objectively justified and politically sanctioned feature of contemporary policing and law enforcement practice.

About the Speaker: Dr Patrick Williams is a senior lecturer within the department of Sociology, Manchester Metropolitan University. Prior to his current role he was Research and Evaluation Officer for the Greater Manchester Probation Trust. Patrick is committed to a research agenda that privileges the stories and narratives of individuals, groups and communities that reside in proximity to the systemic harms of criminal injustice. Adopting a deliberately interventionist research approach, he specialises in surfacing processes of criminalisation, racial disproportionality, discrimination, and injustice across the CJS of England and Wales and more recently the encroachment of technologies into policing and law enforcement practices. He is author of ‘Dangerous Associations: Joint Enterprise, ‘Gangs’ and Racism’ (with Becky Clarke); ‘Being Matrixed: the over-policing of ‘gang’ suspects in London’ (with Temi Mwale) and ‘Data-driven policing: the hardwiring of discriminatory policing practices across Europe’ (with Eric Kind).