‘1500 & Counting’ is a documentary film investigating deaths in custody and police brutality in the UK, released in May 2019. On Sunday 3rd May 2015, Sheku Bayoh was killed by up to nine police officers in Kirkcaldy, Scotland. Five years later, his family are still demanding answers. The murder of George Floyd in 2020, which has sparked global uprisings and a resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement has brought the issues of deaths in custody and directly following, or during, police contact into sharp relief once more. There are devastating and chilling parallels between the brutal execution of George Floyd and the killing of Sheku Bayoh. The two men were both loving partners, fathers, sons and brothers.
A report by INQUEST, published on 22nd October 2015 revealed that since 1990, there had been at least 1532 deaths in police custody, or following police contact, in the UK. Of this number, more than 500 victims came from Black and ethnic minority backgrounds, despite people from minority backgrounds making up only 14% of the UK population (as of the 2011 census). No officer has been punished for these deaths. Even one death at the hands of the state is too many, and in 2020, this number is now well over 1700 deaths and counting - yet still, there is no justice.