The family of a man who died after being restrained by police  Kirkcaldy  in 2015 have described the decision not to prosecute any of the nine officers involved as a “betrayal”.

Lord Advocate James Wolffe told relatives of Sheku Bayoh that, after a review, he had confirmed a previous decision not to bring charges against the Police Scotland officers involved. 

Mr Bayoh's family are now demanding a public inquiry into this and other deaths in custody. 

His mother said her “heart was broken” over the decision. “My only son died in the hands of the police who are supposed to have protected him,” she said. “Since his death, my life has never been the same. I miss him so much.

Read more: Sheku Bayoh custody death officers are to retire because of ill health

“I just want to know the truth – how my son died.”

Aamer Anwar, solicitor for Mr Bayoh’s family and his partner Collette Bell, said: “Today the Lord Advocate advised the Bayoh family that not one police officer or Police Scotland will face charges for the death of Sheku Bayoh. They feel totally betrayed by the Lord Advocate, for not holding power to account, for his broken promises, his betrayal of justice and failure to act in the public interest.”

He said neither the family not their legal team accepted the Crown’s reasoning for failing to bring criminal charges against any of the officers involved.

Sheku Bayoh died aged 31 on May 3rd 2015, after police responded to claims that a man was behaving erratically and wielding a knife. Toxicology tests later established that Mr Bayoh had taken ecstasy and a drug known as Flakka.

However the family claim had no weapon of any kind when he was restrained and Police did not attempt to de-escalate the situation. 

They also allege police embarked on a deliberate campaign of misinformation in the aftermath of the incident, in an attempt to deflect from what had happened.

Read more: Family of Sheku Bayoh speak of devastation after criminal charges ruled out

The family will now meet with Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf  and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to discuss calls for a public inquiry to look into Mr Bayoh’s case and the handling of deaths in custody in Scotland.

Mr Anwar said: “The Lord Advocate has presided over a four and a half year investigation which was deeply flawed from the moment Sheku lost his life. 
“The family will accept nothing less than a public inquiry from the Scottish Government.”

Mr Bayoh’s sister Kadijatu Johnson said the family had held onto hopes that the Crown Office would help them find answers about how he died. “We  lost confidence a long time ago in the ability of The Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (PIRC) to carry out a robust and impartial investigation. We have tried desperately to retain confidence in the Lord Advocate and his team. This is a devastating result.” 

She said the family accepted her brother was acting out of character and had committed a crime when he encountered police. But he had been uninjured until that moment, she said. “Soon after the first police officers reached him, he was covered  head to toe in injuries, and he subsequently died.”

Read more: Decision not to prosecute officers in Sheku Bayoh case leaves many questions unanswered

Had he died after being held down by members of the public, those involved would automatically have been suspects, she said.

But the police officers involved were treated as witnesses and were not made to give statements for 32 days, Ms Johnson said. “The police have been protected yet again. Why should police officers be above the law?” 

Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf confirmed he would meet with the family to discuss their concerns. “I note the independent decision of the Lord Advocate in relation to this case and my thoughts remain with the family and friends of Mr Bayoh.

"As I have said previously, I am not ruling out the possibility of a public inquiry and that remains an option," Mr Yousaf said.

"I also made clear that I would first meet Mr Bayoh’s family. I, and the First Minister will do this tomorrow and I will update Parliament following that.”

A spokesperson for the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service said:
“Following careful consideration and thorough review of all the available evidence, including submissions made on behalf of the family of the deceased, independent Crown Counsel has concluded there should not be a prosecution in this case.

“Although the evidence currently available would not justify criminal proceedings, the Crown reserves the right to prosecute should evidence in support of that become available.

“The Crown is committed to ensuring that all the facts and circumstances surrounding the death of Mr Bayoh are fully aired in an appropriate legal forum.”