Bijan Ebrahimi is a disabled Iranian refugee who had constantly provided reports of death threats and racial abuse to the police for more than seven years before being gruesomely murdered.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has revealed that the police repeatedly failed to protect Ebrahimi as they were obligated to. Avon and Somerset police officers may have been biased against Bijan Ebrahimi because of his race, IPCC said.
According to the watchdog, Ebrahimi made 85 calls to the force between 2007 and July 2013, when a neighbour punched and kicked him to death before setting fire to his body outside his Bristol home.
In 73 of the calls, Ebrahimi reported allegations including racial abuse, criminal damage and threats to kill, but police failed to record a crime on at least 40 of those occasions. Rather than seeing him as vulnerable, he was dismissed as a nuisance, the report said.
In the days before his death Ebrahimi called the police to say his neighbour Lee James had barged into his home and attacked him. Police did attend but arrested Ebrahimi, 44, rather than James. Neighbours, who wrongly believed he was a paedophile, cheered as he was led away.
Ebrahimi was allowed home and later called police to tell them a mob had gathered outside, pleading with them to send help. Hours later James murdered him.
The report highlighted a catalogue of separate errors in the way Ebrahimi was dealt with in the years leading up to his death and the hours before the murder, adding that there were systemic problems within the force.
It said that while James bore immediate responsibility for Ebrahimi’s death, the police “missed a significant number of opportunities” to step in.
IPCC commissioner Jan Williams said: “The constabulary failed Bijan Ebrahimi on a number of levels, over a number of years. This failure was at its worst at the very time that his need was greatest.
“Our investigation identified a series of poor police service responses that spanned at least seven years, and that exposed the constabulary’s failure to identify Bijan Ebrahimi as a vulnerable man in need of protection and support.
“Bijan Ebrahimi self-identified as a victim of race hate crime, but was never recognised as a repeat victim of abuse who needed help. Instead, his complaints about abusive neighbours were disbelieved and he was considered to be a liar, a nuisance and an attention seeker. Neighbours’ counter allegations were taken at face value and accepted.
“The constabulary’s failure to challenge unfounded rumours that Bijan Ebrahimi was a paedophile was to form the backdrop to the fatal events of 14 July 2013.
“We found evidence that Bijan Ebrahimi had been treated consistently differently from his neighbours, to his detriment and without reasonable explanation. Some of the evidence has the hallmarks of what could be construed as racial bias, conscious or unconscious.”
PC Kevin Duffy and PCSO Andrew Passmore were jailed last year for misconduct over their dealings with Mr Ebrahimi. They and two other police officers were also dismissed from the force.
Chief Constable Andy Marsh said: “We failed [Mr Ebrahimi] in his hour of need and I am unreservedly sorry for the pain his family have suffered in the last four years.
“Some of these failings were systematic but it’s important to acknowledge that the actions of a very small number of individuals had a catastrophic effect.”
Avon and Somerset Police has since implemented changes across its systems relating to culture, anti-social behaviour and vulnerability.
Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens said: “There is nothing that can do justice to the collective failure to protect Mr Ebrahimi and to treat him as a victim of hate crime.
“Over the past four years I am satisfied that the constabulary has recognised the mistakes that were made and put in place wide-reaching changes which are already embedded today.”