The heartbroken family of a 15-year-old boy who died while riding an electric bike in Cardiff have said it was an early birthday present.
Harvey Evans was killed alongside his best friend Kyrees Sullivan, 16, while riding the e-bike, in a crash that sparked rioting in the city's Ely community.
The unrest followed claims police chased the teenagers before they crashed on the evening of Monday, May 22, with an independent investigation being launched by the watchdog.
CCTV footage of a South Wales Police van following the pair as they rode a Sur-Ron electric bike spread on social media and fueled violent clashes. The rioting saw at least nine people arrested, while 15 officers were injured.
Members of the community came together for a vigil on Friday to remember the teenagers, releasing blue balloons and setting off fireworks and flares.
It was there that Harvey's family revealed the bike he was riding was an early birthday present. He would have celebrated turning 16 next month had his life not been cut so tragically short.
Remembering Harvey, his aunt Hayley Murphy and grandmother Dawn Rees he had loved e-bikes and scooters and “did everything” with his pal Kyrees and that "they loved each other like brothers".
It was understood the police had been asked not to attend the vigil, during which people wore white T-shirts adorned with pictures of Kyrees and Harvey. A moment of silence was held before the crowd broke out in applause.
Since Monday, hundreds of floral tributes and messages have been left at the scene of the accident in Snowden Road.
Claims of a pursuit were denied by Alun Michael, the Police and Crime Commissioner for South Wales, but the force has since confirmed a van was following Kyrees and Harvey.
The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) has launched an investigation and is appealing for witnesses who may have seen the moments leading to the crash.
It said the probe was examining the “nature of the police interaction” with Kyrees and Harvey and the “appropriateness” of the officers’ decisions and actions.
The watchdog is also considering whether the police officers’ actions in the van constituted a pursuit, and whether the interaction between the officers and the boys was “reported appropriately by the officers prior to and following the collision”.
IOPC director David Ford: “Our thoughts and sympathies remain with the family and friends of Kyrees and Harvey, as well as all those affected by the loss of two young lives in such a close-knit community as Ely.
“Our investigators have been conducting inquiries and securing evidence in the immediate vicinity of where the events took place, speaking to local residents, distributing leaflets and gathering as much relevant information as possible.
“I am truly grateful for the co-operation and assistance we have received from people within the local community.
“We are working hard to establish the exact circumstances of what took place in the period leading up to the collision. I would like to reassure everyone in the community that our work will be thorough, impartial, and independent of the police.”
Politicians and community leaders met to discuss the aftermath of Monday’s tragedy.
First Minister Mark Drakeford said: “This week, two families are grieving for their sons and the people of Ely have experienced a collective trauma. My thoughts are with the families and friends of Harvey and Kyrees.
“Representatives of the local community and public agencies, including Action in Caerau and Ely, the Welsh Government and Cardiff Council today met in Ely.
“We have agreed to jointly sponsor a grassroots-led initiative to create a community plan for Ely, to respond to the long-term needs of residents. It will be focused on actions and outcomes for people in Ely.”
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