The great-uncle of a 15-year-old killed in a crash in Cardiff has criticised South Wales Police as a vigil was held at the spot where the boy and his best friend died.
Harvey Evans was killed alongside Kyrees Sullivan, 16, when their Sur-Ron electric bike crashed in the Ely area of the city on Monday evening.
John O’Driscoll, Harvey Evans’s great-uncle, said the police “should have stopped” when they saw the two teenage boys were not wearing helmets, as he attended the vigil on Friday evening.
“What happened on Monday with the riot, that was wrong,” he said, referring to violent scenes that took place in the hours after the tragedy. “The boys were wrong, but it was out of frustration. It was because a lot of the boys get abused by the police around here and so that’s why things kicked off.
“Harvey was my great nephew, we have a big family and we’re all close. They were just young boys. Everyone rides bikes and scooters around here.”
“Yes we find them annoying but that’s just what they do, but as soon as those coppers saw they had no helmets they should’ve stopped,” he added.
The deaths of the two teenagers sparked hours of violence and disorder as cars were set on fire after word spread on social media that a marked police van had been pursuing the pair minutes before the crash.
The claims were later denied by Alun Michael, the Police and Crime Commissioner for South Wales, but CCTV from the area has since shown a police van was driving behind the bike at one point.
The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) said it had recovered footage from the area and is reviewing initial accounts from the police officers involved. Nine people between the ages of 15 and 21 were arrested following the disorder.
Around a thousand people attended the Friday evening vigil. Many of those gathered held blue balloons and wore white T-shirts adorned with pictures of the boys. Dozens of blue and orange flares were also lit and fireworks were set off.
Some in the crowd were in tears as the balloons were released into the sky and a moment of silence was held before the crowd broke out in applause. The family requested that no people on Sur-Ron bikes and no police attend the vigil.
One of Harvey’s uncles in attendance at the vigil said: “We’re all tarred with the same brush here, especially given what happened on Monday.
“But this is the true Ely. Look how many people have turned out to pay their respects.
“The only difference between Monday and today is that the police aren’t here.”
It comes after the IOPC said today it was examining the “nature of the police interaction” with Kyrees and Harvey and the “appropriateness” of the officers’ decisions and actions.
The watchdog is also considering whether the police officers’ actions in the van constituted a pursuit and whether the interaction between the officers and the boys was “reported appropriately by the officers prior to and following the collision”.
IOPC director David Ford: “Our thoughts and sympathies remain with the family and friends of Kyrees and Harvey, as well as all those affected by the loss of two young lives in such a close-knit community as Ely.
“Our investigators have been conducting inquiries and securing evidence in the immediate vicinity of where the events took place, speaking to local residents, distributing leaflets and gathering as much relevant information as possible.
“I am truly grateful for the co-operation and assistance we have received from people within the local community.
“We are working hard to establish the exact circumstances of what took place in the period leading up to the collision. I would like to reassure everyone in the community that our work will be thorough, impartial, and independent of the police.”