published: 6 Sept 2018
Mikey’s cousin and prominent activist and social justice campaigner, Tippa Naphtali, has written the following moving article to commemorate the 15th anniversary of Mikey’s 2003 death in custody.
It was a lazy Sunday morning of 7th September 2003 when I received the devastating news from my sister that my cousin, Michael Lloyd Powell (known as Mikey), had died during a violent restraint by West Midlands police officers. This news was to mark the start of a 15-year journey that would have a significant impact on my life to this day.
Mikey was a hard-working and loving father of three boys, and was well-known and respected in the local community. He was experiencing a severe psychotic episode when police officers were called by my distraught aunt, Clarissa Powell.
After a brief verbal altercation, the attending officers drove a police car at Mikey knocking him down, then beat him with batons, CS gassed him, and violently restrained him. Knowing he was injured, they drove him to a police station not a hospital. He died of asphyxiation after been restrained face down on the floor of the police van.
When two worlds collide
I had worked in the fields of mental health and police consultation in London for many years prior to my cousins’ death, and these collided tragically in September 2003. Such was the impact of his death, I made the decision to move back to my home town of Birmingham after 28 years living and working in London; so that I could be at the forefront of my family’s fight for justice, as well as to ensure changes were implemented in both policing and mental health practice.
I was determined that Mikey’s life and death would be remembered with a lasting legacy.