On the night of 14 October 1997 Lakhvinder ‘Ricky’ Reel and his three friends were racially abused and attacked in Kingston, west London. Fearing for their lives they fled.
The racial incident was immediately reported to the police, yet no action was taken. They began their investigation and discovered vital video evidence and witnesses.
Seven days later, his body was found in the Thames, less than half a mile away from the location of the incident. When Ricky’s body was found the police concluded that further investigation was not required.
The police maintained that Ricky died by slipping over the edge after urinating in the river. They refused to investigate other theories. Consequently the circumstances of Ricky’s death still remain a mystery. The investigation was taken over by the Race and Violent Crime Task force in late 1998.
Given the police’s poor response the family instigated a complaint against them. This was undertaken by the Surrey Constabulary and supervised by the Police Complaints Authority.
The report was completed in 1998 and in early 1999 this report was released to the family and their solicitor on the condition that it is not released to the public. The family continues to demand that the report be made public.
In November 1999 the inquest into Ricky’s death began at Fulham Town Hall. As the inquest progressed the new investigating team announced that they did not believe that Ricky died in any other circumstance but an accident.
This was a shock to the family who had some faith that this team was at last looking seriously into Ricky’s death.
Despite the police arguing that the death was accidental, the jury returned an open verdict.