Ely riots: Police watchdog to probe 'interaction' between police and teenagers killed in crash
An independent investigation into claims police chased two teenagers before they crashed - sparking riots in Ely, Cardiff - has been launched.
The police watchdog (IOPC) will probe “any interaction” between South Wales Police officers and two teenage boys before they were killed in the Ely area of Cardiff while riding an electric bike.
The Independent Office for Police Conduct said in a statement: “Following a referral from South Wales Police we have decided to independently investigate an incident in Ely, Cardiff, on Monday which resulted in the deaths of two teenagers.
“Our decision to investigate follows our attendance at the police post incident procedure and after a review of the information received to date.
“We will be examining any interaction between the police and the boys after CCTV footage emerged apparently showing a police vehicle following a bike prior to the incident.”
IOPC Director David Ford said: “First and foremost our thoughts and sympathies go out to the families and friends of the two boys who sadly lost their lives on Monday evening in Ely. It is important that we independently investigate the circumstances leading up to this tragic event.
“This incident and the events that followed have, understandably, attracted significant interest and public concern. It is important that we thoroughly and independently investigate this matter, in order to establish the full facts and circumstances of exactly what happened on Monday.”
A video circulating on social media appears to show a police vehicle following a bike being ridden by two people a few minutes before Monday evening’s collision.
South Wales Police said the collision had already happened when the first officers arrived on the scene in Snowden Road.
Tensions rose and spilled over into rioting which saw missiles and fireworks thrown at the police and cars set alight.
Alun Michael, the Police and Crime Commissioner for South Wales, said he had been “assured and I am still assured youths were not being chased by the police at the time of the road traffic accident”.
The South Wales force said the video clip – taken from a nearby house’s CCTV cameras – would form part of its investigation but insisted there were no police vehicles on Snowden Road at the time of the crash.
Chief Superintendent Martyn Stone said: “A police vehicle in Grand Avenue responded to the report of a collision, attended the area and the officers performed CPR.”
In the crash’s aftermath, Mr Michael gave interviews in which he said there were “rumours” of a police chase, “which wasn’t the case”.
On Wednesday morning (May 24), he told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: “Information emerged after we had done the interview which has to be investigated, and the question has to be asked of whether there is a connection between earlier events and the road traffic accident itself.
“We have to look at the facts of what actually happened on Monday. I am assured and I am still assured youths were not being chased by the police at the time of the road traffic accident.
“The road traffic accident is being carefully investigated but there wasn’t a police vehicle in the road where and when the actual accident happened.
“The impression that was given was that of youngsters being chased by the police and an accident happened, an immediate one to the other.
“That, I am still assured, is not what happened, but information emerged of the vehicle and the youngsters in the same street, a different street, shortly before the event. That of course then comes into something that should be investigated.”
It was put to Mr Michael that this leaves open the possibility of a pursuit and he replied: “It leaves open the possibility.
“I was assured there was not… police chasing the individuals at the time the accident happened. That there may have been something earlier is of course something that should be fully investigated.”
Specially trained public order officers were deployed, including officers from neighbouring police forces, as several vehicles were set alight, property was damaged and officers were hurt.
Scenes being livestreamed on YouTube showed young people throwing fireworks and other missiles at a line of police officers with riot shields who were blocking one end of the street.
Police said arrests were made after the disorder, which left 15 officers requiring medical attention – 11 of which were treated in hospital.
At about midnight, Belinda Sullivan, Kyrees’s mother, pleaded on Facebook with the rioters to stop because her son’s body remained at the scene of the crash.
Friends of the two boys, who were from the Ely area, said they were riding a Sur-Ron electric bike without helmets when they died.
Tributes were paid to the teenagers, with one local resident, Bridy Bool, calling Harvey a “sociable” boy with “loads of friends” and who loved motorbikes and football.
She said he was best friends with Kyrees, who was “into the same things”.