Waiting at a bus stop, 18-year-old Stephen Lawrence was stabbed to death in an unprovoked attack by a gang of white youths
|Born||13 September 1974|
|Died||22 April 1993 (Age 18)|
The eighteen-year-old A-level student aiming to become an architect, Stephen Lawrence, was a black British teenager from Plumstead, south east London, who was murdered in a racially motivated attack while waiting for a bus on the evening of 22 April 1993.
“What? What? Nigger!”
A bus stop in south-east London, an outburst of racist bile, which as it crossed the lips of an all-white gang of five young thugs became a sentence of death for a black teenager and for the integrity of Scotland Yard.
Two vicious stabbing movements accomplished the murder, each calculated to shed so much blood that the victim would know by his own drenching that death was on the way.
This is a snapshot of what happened at 10.40 p.m. on Thursday, 22 April 1993, at the request stop in Well Hall Road, Eltham; a cut down version of events which engulfed a young man of 18 summers who, after an evening out with his friends in south-east London, was trying to return home to his mother Doreen, his father Neville, his brother Stewart and his sister Georgina.
Despite his awesome wounds and because he was so fit, Stephen Lawrence managed to run 300 yards from the thugs who had stabbed him. With each yard covered and each footfall made, he was pumping blood from two severed arteries. And then he fell. Unconscious.
Though traumatised, the other victim of the attack, Stephen’s friend, Duwayne Brooks, had found a phone box. At 10.46 p.m. he dialled 999 pleading for an ambulance.
In the meantime a police car arrived. The officers checked Stephen for a pulse. But then failed to examine him thoroughly or to give first-aid. The kit was never even taken from the patrol car. Instead they questioned Duwayne as if he was a suspect rather than a victim, as if the two black boys had done something wrong.
In 1997, when Stephen Lawrence was 3, there were just 199 black police officers in all of England and Wales. When he died, 15 years later, the figure had scarcely improved. None of the detectives who investigated the murder was black.
Stephen’s parents, who came from Jamaica, still wonder whether the boys’ colour shaped the police’s attitude and contributed to the failure to give first-aid:
“None of the police officers attending the scene made any attempt to see if there was anything they could do. They just stood there while my son was bled to death. None of them checked to see how serious his injuries were, they just stood there waiting for the ambulance. Maybe there was something they could have done to save him. But the fact was they never tried. That says it all. There are two questions I would like the police to answer. Are all officers trained in basic first aid? Or was it because they did not want to get their hands dirty with a black man’s blood?”
At 10.54 p.m. the ambulance arrived and a paramedic tried to re-start Stephen’s heart without success. By the time he was in the recovery room Stephen had lost too much blood and his veins had collapsed. At 11.17 p.m. the death certificate was signed.