A close friend of Sheku Bayoh said his “brother” was murdered at the hands of police officers, an inquiry has heard.
Kahid Saeed, 38, who knew the 31-year-old since he was 17, was called to give evidence at a public investigation into Mr Bayoh’s death in Edinburgh on Friday.
He told Angela Grahame QC, leading the inquiry: “The truth is he (Mr Bayoh) was murdered in police custody.”
Mr Bayoh died while being held by officers on a police call-out in Kircaldy, Fife, on May 3 2015.
A written statement from Mr Saeed displayed to the inquiry showed Mr Bayoh had taken drugs the night before he died.
He was also seen with an 8in-kitchen knife and fighting with another man hours before he was pronounced dead, according to neighbours called to give evidence.
Fighting back tears, Mr Saeed was reluctant to answer questions from Ms Grahame, saying he could not remember events from seven years ago and that he was traumatised.
He told the hearing he has been through two traumas, adding “first one was my son who was killed, then my friend, who was murdered in police custody.
“That has caused trauma.
“The questions you should be asking is to the police officers, not me, not me.”
Lord Bracadale, chairing the inquiry, adjourned Mr Saeed’s evidence until a later date.
Neil Morgan, who lived opposite Mr Bayoh in Kirkcaldy, was then called to give evidence.
The witness told the inquiry he saw his neighbour, who he knew as “Chris”, fighting someone in a nearby garden on returning home from working a night-shift at about 7am.
Mr Morgan said he initially thought some neighbours were being robbed and went outside to help Mr Bayoh.
It was at this point the witness said he saw Mr Bayoh carrying kitchen knife about 8in long.
Ms Grahame asked the witness what Mr Bayoh was doing with the knife, to which the he replied: “He was tapping it on his leg, and I said to him, you can’t go round with that knife, you’ll get done.
“Then he turned around to me and he said: ‘It’s not even sharp…’ and sort of poked it at my belly.”
When Ms Grahame asked about his reaction to this, Mr Morgan replied: “Nothing really.
“I certainly didn’t feel threatened by him.
“My biggest concern was I wanted him to come home and just settle down whatever he was doing that had upset him, come in and have a cup of coffee.”
Mr Morgan described Mr Bayoh as “a really nice guy”, “never no trouble, just nice”.
But he told the inquiry the morning of his neighbour’s death, Mr Bayoh “wasn’t himself” and had “starry” and “gazey” eyes.
He added: “He was calm, he didn’t seem in a rage. He was himself, but with a knife.”
Neighbour Naomi Rhodes, also giving evidence, said she was woken by shouting outside her bedroom window the morning Mr Bayoh died.
She told the inquiry she saw two males fighting, and one of them was Mr Bayoh.
When Ms Grahame asked her about Mr Bayoh’s behaviour that morning, Ms Rhodes replied: “He wasn’t being himself, he was fighting.”
She described Mr Bayoh, who she had known for four years, as a “good neighbour and friendly natured, never any hassle.”
Harry Kolberg was driving in the Hayfield area of Kirkcaldy with his son, Robson, the morning Mr Bayoh was pronounced dead after being restrained by officers on May 3 2015.
The inquiry heard that at about 7am that day, Mr Kolberg and his son saw a man who appeared to be holding a knife walking directly towards them in the town’s Templehall Avenue before chasing their car.
Footage captured on Mr Kolberg’s dashcam played at the inquiry showed the man walking towards his car.
Mr Kolberg said the man had a “clenched fist” and came within “arms length” of his vehicle.
He said: “After we passed him, he (Robson) said: ‘Dad, he’s chasing the car, and it looks like he’s got a knife in his hand.’
“I had a quick look in the mirror and he was chasing the car.”
Mr Kolberg continued: “Because he was chasing, I turned up on to Henry Road, went up the road, I saw in the mirror he actually ran to the other side of Henry Road, towards Hayfield industrial estate.
“My first initial thought was that he thought, ‘Oh he’s phoning the police and I better disappear’.”
The inquiry was played a recording from a 999 call that Mr Kolberg made after spotting the man.
He told police: “Just as I passed him he thumped my car.
“It looked like he was carrying a knife and he started chasing the car.”
When an officer asked him for a description of the man, he replied: “African origin, quite muscly build.”
David Grey, 62, was also at the scene the day Mr Bayoh was restrained by police and called to give evidence.
Mr Grey, who was driving a large white van shortly after 7am in Hayfield Road on May 3 2015, said he spotted a man with “what appeared to be a knife blade” about 7in long walking towards his vehicle.
The witness said at this point, another driver, going in the opposite direction, told him: “There’s a man up there with a knife, turn around.”
When asked by Angela Grahame QC, leading the inquiry, to describe the man he saw, the witness said: “He was tall, excessive of 6ft in height, wearing a white top and dark coloured trousers.
“His eyes were very, very wide open and as he walked towards me, it was more like a march, like he was intent on going somewhere, on a mission type thing.
“He also walked with his palms open, and in his left hand I saw what appeared to be a blade, a knife blade.”
Mr Grey continued: “When I see someone like that, the first thing I think is it’s drink or drugs that have caused their eyes to be so dilated and so open, and a fixed stare looking straight ahead.
“That’s what I thought.
“He was very purposeful in his walk.
“The way he was marching, and marching down the road, it was like he was going to do something, take revenge I don’t know, on someone down the road.”
The inquiry, before Lord Bracadale, continues.