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Reggae star stabbing death inquest opens in UK

Wednesday - 6/12/2013, 2:30pm  ET

LONDON (AP) -- A British coroner on Wednesday opened an inquest into the 2011 death of reggae star Smiley Culture, who was stabbed in the heart during a police raid on his home.

Police say the London-born musician stabbed himself with a kitchen knife as four officers searched his house in March 2011 in connection with a drugs investigation.

Coroner Richard Travers told an inquest jury that police would testify that the 48-year-old musician was initially relaxed but "changed completely" and became angry and violent during the visit, before plunging a knife into his chest.

Dr. Nathaniel Cary, a pathologist who carried out a post-mortem examination, said that it was possible the fatal wound was self-inflicted, but "on pathological grounds alone there is nothing to determine that this was in fact the case."

The musician's family has called the police account of events "bizarre," and hundreds of people demonstrated after the death to demand a public inquiry.

Inquests are held in Britain to establish the facts about violent or unexplained deaths.

The inquest in Woking, south of London, is expected to last up to three weeks and will hear evidence from the police officers involved, who have been granted anonymity.

Culture -- whose real name was David Emmanuel -- gained fame with 1980s hits, including "Cockney Translation" and "Police Officer."

At the time of his death he was facing trial on charges of conspiracy to supply hard drugs, which he denied.


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