The Friends of Mikey Powell Campaign for Justice was established by the family of Michael Lloyd Powell (known as Mikey), a cousin of the renowned poet and writer, Benjamin Zephaniah, following his death whilst in Police custody. Mikey was 38 years old and a father of three young children.
He was fit but had suffered several short episodes of mental illness from which he had recovered. One of these episodes occurred on 7th September 2003.
Police had previously dealt appropriately with one and were called again this time. This is what happened this time around:
Officers drove a police car at Mikey, hitting him, beat him with a baton, CS gassed him, restrained him and, knowing he was injured, drove him to a police station not a hospital.
The community was outraged and angry that this could happen so suddenly to a law abiding citizen. This was reflected in a packed public meeting held in September 2003, and a march to Thornhill Road police station in November 2003. Over 500 people attended the protest and hundreds more lined the route.
Mikey’s family and friends established a campaign in his name to express concern with the high rate of custody deaths in the United Kingdom. The Powell family demands that openness; transparency and police cooperation should be at the very heart of investigations into deaths in custody, and the Government must act on its own principles of ‘equality for all’ in ensuring that this is the case. The family of Mikey Powell, like families before us, never dreamt such tragedy could come so suddenly.
Following a 3-month Crown trial against 10 West Midlands police officers in 2006, all were subsequently acquitted. The verdict was met with dismay by the family and their supporters.
In a statement read out by Mikey’s brother-in-law, Chris Lambrias, the family said “We are like any other family who have lost a loved one as a result of a death in police custody. All we are seeking is justice – sadly, today’s verdict is a travesty of just that. Mikey was a hardworking, loving father of three boys – that’s how he will be remembered by his family and friends. “But for others, Mikey has become just another statistic, another person added to the growing list of deaths in custody where no police officer has been held accountable.”
Cousin, Joyce Springer said it was still “chapter one” in their fight to find out what had happened while Mikey was in the police van and then in a cell at Thornhill Road police station. “Clearly there’s an inquest which we are hoping to ask our solicitor to re-open. There are civil proceedings we are considering pursuing with our solicitor, and the chances are we will.”