Star date 9 March
As the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) prepares to release its report to the Crown Prosecution Service this week into the fatal shooting of Anthony Grainger by Greater Manchester Police, his family have little faith that the report will reveal the truth.
Anthony Grainger, from Lower Broughton, was sitting in a car parked in Culcheth, Warrington, with two friends when he was shot dead by a member of a Greater Manchester Police Armed Response Unit last year.
A subsequent search revealed that no weapons were in the vehicle and Grainger was posthumously cleared at Manchester Crown Court of charges of conspiracy to rob. So far, no officer has been charged with the killing.
Last Saturday, one year on from the shooting, members of the public who attended a vigil in Piccadilly Gardens, heard speeches by the Grainger family and the families of other people whose deaths were associated with police treatment.
Janet Alder, whose ex-para brother Christopher died in police custody, has been fighting through the courts for 14 years, trying to hold the police up to account for his death.
Janet took the case all the way to the European Court of Human Rights before getting an apology from the British Government and an admittance that it had failed to carry out an effective and independent inquiry.
“You expect the system to do the right thing. That didn’t happen” she said “I cannot believe that so many people willingly involved themselves in covering up. Since 1969, 1500 people that have died at the hands of the state in psychiatric hospitals, in prisons or in police custody. If our loved ones die at the hands of the state we want to know why, and we want accountability.
“Do not think this couldn’t happen to you” she added “My brother was black but if he’d been any colour they would deal with it exactly the same. You must get out and support these families and must demand justice.”
Earlier, Janet had drawn comparisons between the cases of those fighting for justice for family members whose deaths were associated with police treatment… “There’s a pattern in all these cases” she said “Your loved one is seen as aggressive, a drug taker, an armed robber, anything to demonise their character.”
Carole Duggan, aunty of Mark Duggan, whose shooting sparked last year’s Tottenham riots that spread throughout the country, underlined the point in graphic style…
“The headline for the 10 o’ clock News was `Gangster shot dead in shoot out with the police'” she recalled “Mark didn’t have a criminal record, and then it came to light that Mark didn’t have shoot out with the police either. The officer shot Mark through the heart and blew his lungs away…but apparently Mark was still posing a threat with no lungs, so the officer shot him again. He wasn’t superman.
“They tried to force it down our throats that Mark jumped out of the cab with a gun to shoot 31 officers – with a gun that didn’t work” she added “They proceeded to slander Mark’s name and slander us a family. He was `a gangster, involved in a drug deal, he was after revenge for his cousin’s murder, he was under surveillance for years as a gun man…'”
“This echoes how the police are trying to justify all of these deaths by promoting them as bad people” she added “As drug dealers, gangsters… as dangerous people, so the public will think `It’s a shame but at least they’re off the streets’.”
In between these speeches, Anthony Grainger’s cousin Wesley Ahmed, from the Justice4Grainger campaign, built up a list of unanswered questions surrounding Anthony Grainger’s death…
Subsequently, Anthony Grainger, even though dead and unable to defend himself, was put on trial on conspiracy to rob charges, together with three other men, but all were cleared by a jury, which took just 45 minutes to come up with a not guilty verdict.
“After that, I went through all the police statements and was looking for a reason why they murdered Anthony” recalled Wesley “What I found was that the day after they shot him, they raided all the houses, including Anthony’s house, and what they were retrieving were memory sticks…The connection to the memory stick was that Anthony had a VW scrap yard and he’d sold two air bags from the VW car which the police linked to a memory stick that had been stolen in Manchester
“I was trying to piece it all together but didn’t know what was on the memory stick until it came on the news that Greater Manchester Police had been fined over a memory stick that had gone missing” he added.
Before his death, Anthony Grainger had been arrested twice in connection with the memory stick, before the charges were dropped. Amongst other things on the stick were the names of 1075 police informants.
“The icing on the cake was when Yorkshire Police raided my daughter’s house just before Christmas, with no name on the warrant just the words `shotgun and cartridges'” Wesley recalled “When they raided the house and turned it upside down they were looking in hairdryers, going behind family photographs, so I think they were looking for the memory stick – or trying to intimidate me from doing what I’m doing, which is campaigning for my cousin.”
The alleged police obsession with the memory stick is now becoming central to the campaign’s search for circumstances surrounding Grainger’s death.
“I put this to you” concluded Wesley “What would be cheaper – to put 1075 police informants in police protection – or kill a man who they thought had the memory stick?”
Following Wesley Ahmed’s final speech, Gail Hadfield, Anthony Grainger’s partner, came onto the stage with her daughter.
“One year on and we’re still fighting for everything we believe” she said “As time goes by there’s less and less faith in the IPCC, and less and less faith in the police…”
She was too distraught to continue speaking…