Family of man who died in Thames during attempted arrest demand answers | London

The family of a man who died after entering the River Thames while being arrested in south-west London have called for answers from the police, saying: “We just want closure.”

Liam Allen, 23, entered the river by Kingston Bridge at about 10.30pm on 26 August and started swimming away after he was told he was being arrested, the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) said.

What happened next is unclear but two hours later his body was found in the water and he was pronounced dead at the scene.

After the incident, the Met said there was a “verbal altercation” involving a man and a woman who knew each other and an allegation of theft. They were in the process of arresting the man but had not yet placed him in handcuffs, police said at the time.

The IOPC, which is investigating the incident, is appealing for witnesses.

Allen, a labourer, has been described as a joker who loved to make people laugh and a person who would do anything for anyone.

His father, Jamie Allen, told BBC London on Sunday: “The main question is why wasn’t the lifebuoy thrown to him at any point when he entered the water?”

He said the family had not had any answers from the police, adding: “We just all keep breaking down, we just want closure on it, what happened.”

His brother, Ethan Adami, told the broadcaster he felt like he had “lost a big chunk of myself”. “He influenced a lot of what I was like and so it’s really brought me down so much more than words can explain,” he said.

Allen was reportedly out with his brother and girlfriend when there was a drunken row and an allegation of theft, and police were called.

The Met said it could not comment but that the case was being investigated by the IOPC and that it was supporting the investigation.

The IOPC said it was notified about the incident by the Met at 1.10am on Saturday and that it attended the police post-incident procedures. It said it was reviewing officers’ body camera footage.

Sal Naseem, the IOPC’s regional director, said its condolences were with Allen’s friends and family and appealed for witnesses to come forward.

“We are aware of speculation surrounding how Liam came to enter the water. Having viewed the relevant police body-worn video, we have advised his family and can confirm that Liam ran down some steps from Riverside Walk into the water and began swimming away into the river immediately after being advised he was being arrested.

“Emergency assistance from the Coastguard, National Police Air Service (NPAS) and the London fire brigade was quickly requested by one of the officers,” Naseem added.

“However, we need to establish all of the contact the police had with Liam on that evening. We would like to speak to anyone who may have seen police officers speaking with a male, or a small group of people, on or near the vicinity of Kingston Bridge between 10.30pm and 11.15pm on Friday 26 August.

“Given the contact police officers had with Liam before he died, it is important that a thorough and independent investigation is carried out to establish the full circumstances and examine the interaction between Liam and any officer before he entered the river.”

On a Gofundme page for Allen’s funeral, Adami wrote: “Liam was an amazing human being, an amazing son, brother, friend … for a young man at the age of 23 to be taken from us is heartbreaking.”

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