The family of an unarmed black man who was shot dead by police has hit out against “offensive" claims about his past made by "online trolls".
Chris Kaba’s cousin Jefferson Bosela, a former school teacher, says that reports he has seen are “irrelevant” to the officers’ decision to shoot him.
The father-to-be was shot on September 5 after being pursued by Metropolitan Police officers, and a post-mortem exam confirmed he suffered a bullet wound to the head.
A homicide investigation was launched and the officer who fired the shot has now been suspended.
No gun was found in the car or near the scene and the vehicle was not registered to him, but his family says claims of Chris having a previous criminal conviction have surfaced online and they have "no idea if the claims are correct".
In the statement released today, Jefferson said: “It is extremely distressing to read offensive media allegations about Chris’ past.
“We have no idea whether the claims are correct, but we can’t see how they are relevant to the police’s decision to shoot Chris dead.
“Everyone in this country has the right to go about their business without fear of being killed by the police.
“There are very limited circumstances in which the police can use force. When a person is killed as a result of that use of force, their death must be fully and properly investigated, no matter what the people involved may – or may not have – done in their past.”
Jefferson added that speculation about his past was a “distraction” from establishing why he was killed and that “Chris was a loving son, caring brother, excited father-to-be and a young man with so much potential.”
Speaking to the Mirror, Jefferson expressed how he felt that “online trolls” bringing up Chris’ history was down to “inherent racism” in the UK.
He said: “It's just inherent racism in this country. Even when someone's been shot dead, especially when it's a Black person, they find ways to justify it.
“And that’s not right. But we just try to ignore them. They don't matter, they're not relevant. And a lot of the time, they don't want to listen to reason anyway.”
“The trolls - what they do is they dehumanise him. They want him to seem less than a human.
“As if being a criminal warrants you being shot dead by the police. That’s insane.”
Jefferson added that police wouldn’t have known it was Chris driving the vehicle which made his past more irrelevant.
Deborah Coles, Director of the charity INQUEST, said: “There is a long history of the authorities and sections of the media attempting to demonise the dead.
"This is an attempt to detract from legitimate public concern about police use of lethal force against a Black man. Police cannot be judge, jury and executioner.
"They must be accountable to the rule of law. We must continue to focus on the fundamental question of how and why an unarmed Black man can be shot dead on the streets by police.”
Daniel Machover of Hickman & Rose solicitors, who represent the family, said: “It is vital for a safe and just society that the police are held fully accountable in law whenever they use lethal force.
"This remains true regardless of what anyone involved may - or may not - have done in the past.
"The Kaba family remains resolute in its determination to establish precisely how and why Chris came to be shot. Speculation about Chris’ past is an unnecessary distraction from this priority.”