Mother of student who died in custody: ‘Black men are dying for no reason'

Black Lives Matters protest planned for central London

Thursday, 4th June 2020 — By Tom Foot

Nuno Cardoso

THE mother of a student who died after being restrained by police said she empathised with George Floyd’s family, as friends prepared to join new Black Lives Matter protests.

Doroteia dos Santos said the incident in Minnesota which has sparked worldwide protests had only worsened the pain and frustration she feels over the death of her son, Nuno Cardoso.

Mr Cardoso, who grew up on the Peckwater estate in Kentish Town, died aged 25 following his arrest in Oxford where he had begun studying for a law degree.

He had been struck with a baton before falling unconscious in a police car. An independent investigation later cleared the officers of wrongdoing. Mr Cardoso’s family and friends, who will attend the Black Lives Matters protest in Trafalgar Square on Saturday wearing “Justice for Nuno” T-shirts, say they never received an apology.

Ms dos Santos told the New Journal yesterday (Wednesday): “I want to speak out to say that in the UK we do have problems here too. Black boys are dying for no reason. If they want proof, come and speak to the mothers of Edson Da Costa, Rashan Charles and Sean Rigg. Come and speak to me about my son Nuno.”

“They need to speak to us, they need to find out what needs to be done to stop this constant attacking of our kids.”

Mr Floyd died on May 25 after an officer pressed his knee down on the handcuffed 46-year-old’s neck for several minutes. In Camden this week, council buildings were lit up in purple in memory of Mr Floyd and in support of campaigners.

The New Journal has inverted its masthead this week in solidarity with those peacefully campaigning against racism and injustice.

Music, entertainment and media companies, including the CNJ, “blacked out” their social media profiles as part of a global response on Tuesday, but some demonstrators have warned that symbolism must not slow down calls for change. Council leader Georgia Gould, meanwhile, warned that “racism is not an American disease”.

And the borough’s police commander, Raj Kohli, said that his teams would never act like the officers accused in Minnesota, but he acknowledged that statistics showed a disproportionate number of BAME people are stopped and searched.

A vigil was held on the Peckwater estate following Nuno’s death in November 2017.

At an inquest in Oxford last year, a jury ruled that “reasonable force” had been applied by police during his restraint.

He died after “falling ill” in the police car on the way to hospital. The inquest heard how he died from respiratory failure due to swallowing drugs hidden in his mouth.

Nuno’s case was mentioned on Newsnight on Tuesday night in a clip that has since been widely shared on social media. Ms dos Santos added: “I was really upset, crying when they showed how George Floyd died as I can understand what his mother was going through. “Still to this day no one wanted to listen to us. We know our kids should be alive.”

In the days after his death, Nuno’s family told the New Journal how he had been inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement and had attended its first protest in the UK.

Ms dos Santos said he had become politicised after police wrongly broke down the family’s door looking for him during the London riots in 2011. It was proven that he had not been involved.

Doroteia dos Santos

Ms Dos Santos said: “It was his passion because he knew what his friends had faced on the streets, being stopped for no reason, searched for no reason. Because they match a description – for what?”

Ms dos Santos, who cannot attend Saturday’s demo as she is shielding from the coronavirus, said: “I believe he better understood racism than I did, because he was a boy on the streets. Because I was a mother, I wasn’t looking into racism a lot – I believed everyone was being treated the same.

“But he was saying, ‘no, Mum, they are not’. He would speak up for people without voices. He said when he became a lawyer he would take the police to court. He was preparing to do big things defending the black youths.”

A vigil in Kentish Town following Mr Cardoso’s death

Following the inquest and the Independent Police Complaints Commission’s findings, assistant Chief Constable Chris Ward, of Thames Valley Police, said in a statement: “The outcome of this incident was tragic and I offer my condolences to the family.”

“The coroner in this case has delivered a narrative verdict acknowledging that the officers provided professional and timely medical care.”

He added that IPCC had ruled the officers’ actions had been “found to be appropriate and did not amount to misconduct.”

Guidance to police officers regarding the use of body-worn cameras was changed after a review of Mr Cardoso’s case.

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