A BBC One Wales documentary will this week examine the cases of Mohamud Hassan and Mouayed Bashir - two young Black men who died following police contact in early 2021.

In Death of Two Black Men: Police in the Spotlight, BBC Wales Investigates reporter, Mo Jannah, will speak to the families of Hassan and Bashir, a year on from the deaths that have left communities shaken.

Ahead of the documentary, which airs on Monday at 7.30pm, The National looks back on the two cases, as well as the case of 30 year-old Leighton Jones, who died following police restraint in Pentwyn, Cardiff, last June.

MOHAMUD HASSAN

Mohamud Mohammed Hassan, 24, was arrested for breach of the peace by South Wales Police at his home in Roath, Cardiff, on the evening of Friday 8th January 2021. 

According to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), the police had responded to reports of ten men fighting at the property, adding that bodycam footage from the night showed some of the men had injuries. No further detail about this alleged incident has been provided, however, and Mohamud’s family has not been permitted to view the bodycam footage.

Mohamud was taken to Cardiff Bay Police Station, where he spent the night. The dad-to-be was released without charge at 08.30 the next morning and returned home, at which point he called his aunt, Zainab Hassan, and asked her to visit.

The National Wales: Mohamud Mohammed Hassan, 24, died at his home in January last year. Mohamud Mohammed Hassan, 24, died at his home in January last year.

“Even before he reached home, his friends saw him and asked him what had happened to him, because they saw all the bruises and that he was walking with a limp,” Zainab told WalesOnline recently.

She described her nephew’s face as “bruised”, adding that “the muscle in his lip was literally hanging out.”

Mohamud told Zainab that he’d been beaten by the police while in custody. Though his aunt urged him to seek hospital treatment, he insisted on going to sleep. He was found dead in bed shortly after 10.30pm that night.

An investigation by the IOPC has followed, one marred by controversy from its very beginnings, with SWP criticised for allegedly downplaying the possibility of wrongdoing in the immediate wake of Mohamud’s death.

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“Early findings by the force indicate no misconduct issues and no excessive force,” the force’s initial statement read, with Chief Constable Jeremy Vaughan later adding that the investigation had been triggered “not because we thought that police officers had done anything wrong, but because it was the right thing to do.”

In spite of these initial statements, six police officers were later served misconduct notices and are under investigation for possible breaches relating to use of force, inadequate welfare checks and custody record-keeping. All of the officers remain on duty, with the IOPC advising that the notices do not “necessarily mean an officer has committed any wrongdoing.”

The death sparked months of protest in Cardiff, with one week in February seeing near-daily demonstrations blocking the road outside the police station where Mohamud spent his last night, demanding the release of bodycam and CCTV footage.

Individuals that took part in these protests were later served with fines for Covid breaches, with one claiming that he’d been dragged from his bed by police officers.

The National Wales: For days in February 2021, protestors blocked the road outside Cardiff Bay Police Station (Picture: Huw Evans Agency)For days in February 2021, protestors blocked the road outside Cardiff Bay Police Station (Picture: Huw Evans Agency)

More than a year later, precious little information about what happened has been made public. That all-important footage of Mohamud’s police encounter has yet to be seen by anyone outside of the IOPC and the force itself, and a cause of death for the 24-year-old has not been established.

The Hassan family has repeatedly complained of poor communication from the IOPC, accusing the investigatory body and the police of having “conspired to cover up, obscure, frustrate, delay and dispute our search for the truth.”

Their legal representative last year told the BBC that no interpreter had been provided for the family, who are of Somali heritage and speak English as a second language, for the opening hearing of Mohamud’s inquest.

The IOPC said recently: "While we appreciate how very difficult this past year has been for Mr Hassan's family and their understandable need to know the circumstances surrounding his death, it has been vital that we pursue every possible line of enquiry.” 

The body added that its investigation was near completion, and a “substantial” report was being finalised.

Mohamud’s inquest continues in May.

The National Wales: Protest at Cardiff Bay Police Station, 2021 (Picture: Huw Evans Agency)Protest at Cardiff Bay Police Station, 2021 (Picture: Huw Evans Agency)

MOUAYED BASHIR

Just over a month after Mohamud Hassan’s death, the family of 29 year-old Mouayed Bashir, from Newport, called 999 with concerns for his welfare.

Mouayed had been stabbed in the leg a month earlier, and according to his family, was struggling with his mental health. On the morning of 17th February, with their son experiencing mental distress and worried about the healing of his leg wound, Mouayed’s parents called for an ambulance.

Instead, Gwent Police arrived.

The National Wales: Mouayed Bashir, left, with his brother.Mouayed Bashir, left, with his brother.

“He was in fear,” Mohannad Bashir, Mouayed’s brother, who was in London at the time and has since moved home to Newport, told The Voice in July last year. 

“He was already scared about the state of the injury that he was trying to treat.

“He was expecting paramedics, but then the police turned up, and they came in with force.”

Mouayed’s parents said that four officers entered their son’s small bedroom, and they were told “not to interfere with police business”. When Mouayed’s father, who had previously delivered training to police on culture and integration, managed to see into the room, he said that Mouayed was handcuffed and bound by the legs.

READ MORE: Video shows alleged police brutality in Newport

“My dad was saying, ‘he’s already injured. What are you doing? Look, he’s bleeding again. Let go of him. Just let him breathe,’” Mohannad went on. 

Mrs Bashir fainted, and a second ambulance was called. She and her son were taken to the same hospital, where Mouayed was later pronounced dead.

Mouayed’s death, like that of Mohamud Hassan, triggered a wave of protest, as BAME communities in Wales grieved the sudden death of another young Black man following police contact, and racial justice campaigners mobilised. 

The National Wales: Protests were held in Newport following Mouayed's death. Protests were held in Newport following Mouayed's death.

Also like Mohamud’s case, the Bashir family has complained of scant communication from the IOPC, and has asked to see the attending officers’ bodycam footage, to no avail. An online petition calling for the footage to be released has been signed by just under 7,000 people.

The family, who are Welsh Sudanese, have been on the council’s housing waiting list for years. Mohannad, who moved home to be with his parents, has been living in his brother’s old room since his death.

"It's very close quarters. It's painful,” he told WalesOnline in November.

The IOPC’s report has not yet been released, and the last update on the body’s website dates from 18th February 2021.

Mouayed’s inquest opened last summer, and will continue this year with a jury during the week of 11th July. A protest march will reportedly take place in Newport on 12th February.

LEIGHTON JONES

In the early hours of 19th June 2021, South Wales Police were called to an address in Pentwyn, Cardiff, after a man was allegedly spotted “in distress and possibly injured”.

According to the IOPC, 30 year-old Leighton Jones appeared unwell when the police arrived. The dad-of-two was restrained and handcuffed yards from his home, which, the police say, was for his own protection.

Shortly afterwards, Leighton was pronounced dead of a heart attack, and an investigation was opened in the following days.

The National Wales: Leighton Jones, 30, died of a heart attack following police contact in June 2021 Leighton Jones, 30, died of a heart attack following police contact in June 2021

In a statement, SWP said that his sudden death appeared to be a “medical episode with no suspicious circumstances” but the investigation had been opened as a matter of procedure.

As with Mohamud Hassan, few details are known about Leighton’s encounter with police, and confusion has surrounded the precise circumstances and location of his death. 

Initially stating that Leighton died at the scene, the IOPC said that he died at the University Hospital of Wales at around 2.30am in a later statement.

Leighton’s brother, Lawrence Cassim, 24, told The National last year: “We’ve been told two stories, one by the police and one by the neighbours.

“We were told by the police they picked him up on the side of the road and an ambulance took him to hospital and he later died in hospital at 2.34am of a heart attack. 

“The neighbours say the police restrained him and handcuffed him.”

The National Wales: A vigil was held for Leighton in Adamsdown, Cardiff, last year.A vigil was held for Leighton in Adamsdown, Cardiff, last year.

According to Lawrence, neighbours had advised that Leighton had been to a nearby garage to buy soft drinks in the hours before his death, and had not been behaving aggressively.

Mobile phone footage of the incident which circulated at the time led to speculation that Leighton had been Tasered during the encounter, but the IOPC asserted there was no evidence to support the claim. 

As with the Hassan and Bashir families, Leighton’s loved ones have not been able to view bodycam or CCTV footage from the night.

“We believe in this day and age footage can be edited so we want to see it with no clips and skips. We want to see the whole thing,” Lawrence said at the time.

An inquest has not yet been confirmed.

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