Joy Gardner was a 40-year-old [African-Caribbean community] mother and undocumented migrant from Jamaica who was killed during a struggle with the police at her home in Crouch End, London on 28 July 1993.
Gardner had come to visit her mother, Myrna Simpson, in 1987, but had overstayed her 6 month visa. An immigration officer and police officers arrived at her home to serve a deportation notice. When Gardner refused, the police entered her home and struggled and fought with her. Police gagged and restrained Gardner using a body belt and had wrapped 13 ft of tape around her head which they later claimed was to prevent her biting them. The officers involved averred that Gardner 'violently' resisted arrest. Gardner suffocated and subsequently fell into a coma. She later died in hospital.
The three police officers involved were found not guilty of manslaughter in 1995.
The acquittal of the police officers sparked a reaction in Britain's black community which led to a protest movement for justice for Joy and her family. Campaigners claim that the police were brutal and used excessive force. The poet Benjamin Zephaniah wrote The Death of Joy Gardner about the incident. Jackie Kay also wrote a poem in her memory entitled Teeth.
In 1999 Gardner's family brought a civil suit against the police for compensation.
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