A Nigerian mother has revealed that she cannot watch footage of George Floyd’s arrest and murder in the US because it is too similar to how her son died.
Ms. Aji Lewis, who is the daughter of Justice JIC Taylor, one of the most respected judges in Nigerian history, lost her son Olaseni, 23, in 2010 soon after he was restrained by police officers at a London hospital.
“I can’t breathe,” he kept repeating as the officers restrained him. He became unconscious and never regained consciousness.
Reacting to George Floyd’s death in a similar way, Ms. Aji Lewis told BBC News that she cannot watch the horrific video of his murder because it reminds her of how her son died.
“I can’t watch” what happened to Mr Floyd who died in Minneapolis “because the very thing Seni was saying was ‘I can’t breathe’,” she said.
An inquest concluded in 2017 that “excessive force” was used by 11 police officers on Mr Lewis.
Six police officers have since however, been cleared of gross misconduct over his death.
IT graduate Seni Lewis never regained consciousness after he was restrained for two prolonged periods of 10 and 20 minutes, at Bethlem Royal Hospital, Beckenham.
He died a few days later in hospital, his brain having been starved of oxygen.
Seni has just finished a Masters degree but admitted himself to the hospital for mental health treatment. When he became agitated, the police were called to the hospital and 11 officers restrained him and continued to do so even when he told them that he couldn’t breathe. His brain was starved of oxygen and he died 4 days later.
Ms Lewis said that since her son’s death there had been “numerous instances” that were similar but police were not being held accountable.
“Many other families, predominately black, we have heard our loved ones say ‘I can’t breathe’,” she said.
“People think it’s only happening in America. It’s not, it’s happening here.”
The misconduct hearing into what happened to Mr Lewis found any failings of officers had been “performance matters”.
Ms Lewis said there was “no accountability” for officers “and until there is you don’t feel as if there’s any justice really”.
Watch her speak in the video below.