South Wales Police has referred itself to the police watchdog after CCTV footage showed a police van following an e-bike before a fatal crash that sparked riots.
Kyrees Sullivan, 16, and Harvey Evans, 15, were killed in Ely, Cardiff on Monday night while riding the bike, prompting scores of youth to target officers with missiles and fireworks and set alight two cars.
Some residents in the district claimed the two boys were being pursued by South Wales Police - an allegation denied by the force.
However, security camera footage has emerged of a police van behind an electric bike not far from the spot where the boys crashed.
The incident has been referred to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).
Chief Superintendent Martyn Stone told a press conference in Cardiff on Tuesday: “We have received footage that shows a police vehicle following a bike at just prior to 6pm.
“This footage is being recovered as part of the investigation and will assist us in piecing together the circumstances leading up to the collision.
“The families are being kept up to date.
“We can confirm the following investigations have been carried out so far and when the collision occurred there were no police vehicles on Snowden Road.”
Cardiff riot: Police force refers itself to watchdog as CCTV shows van following e-bike before fatal crash https://t.co/S4nQFL3RqQ
— Sky News (@SkyNews) May 23, 2023
The IOPC will send investigators to start “gathering information and to assess whether the IOPC will carry out an independent investigation” a spokesperson for the watchdog said.
During the disorder, 15 officers were injured and 11 went to hospital. Four were treated at the scene.
A fire was burning and a helicopter could be heard hovering overhead as rioters threw missiles, including fireworks, at attending officers.
The violence was livestreamed to YouTube with some young people wearing masks as they went on the rampage.
The footage shows more than 100 young people throwing fireworks, rocks, paving slabs and even a door at a line of police with riot shields blocking one end of the street.
Alun Michael, the Police and Crime Commissioner in South Wales, told BBC Radio 4: “My understanding is that there was a road traffic accident...and that appears to have sparked, for reasons that aren’t clear, the disorder.
“Fortunately, none of them life-threatening, and the connection between the two is far from clear.
“It would appear that there were rumours, and those rumours became rife, of a police chase, which wasn’t the case and I think it illustrates the speed with which rumours can run around with the activity that goes on social media nowadays, and that events can get out of hand.”
South Wales Police said arrests have been made but did not give numbers.
“People will be brought to account for the violence,” Mr Michael told BBC Radio 4.
“[It was] obviously very frightening for local people. And there were a lot of calls to the police expressing concern about what was going on.”
Assistant Chief Constable Mark Travis said further arrests are likely.
“The families of the two boys are being supported by family liaison officers. Our thoughts are with both families at this terrible time,” he said.
“An electric bike has been seized from the scene and enquiries are on-going to establish the exact circumstances.”
Police said the collision “had already occurred when officers arrived”.
Shortly before midnight a car was set on fire and burned fiercely, while a second vehicle was overturned and set ablaze.
A member of the public was attacked due to rioters thinking they were an undercover officer, according to a senior officers at the scene.
Police, including mounted officers on horseback, were seen outside Ely police station in the early hours of Tuesday after suggestions it could be targeted.
Shortly before 3am, rioters moved down Highmead Road in Ely, followed by police who were trying to disperse them.
The rioters continued to throw missiles and set cars alight.
Jane Palmer, the owner of a burnt out Ford Focus on Highmead Road, said she and her family watched from their window as rioters set fire to her car.
Ms Palmer said: “I’m disabled so now I’m trapped without my car.
“Why are they doing this? It’s just silly now.”
The family attempted to stop the fire using water from their garden hose.
A man called Connor, who also lives in Highmead Road, said: “It’s been a mad night. This is not the norm around here but people are pretty anti-police and that’s reflected on both sides, not that that’s my opinion.
“Although we’ve been afflicted by this riot, I still understand it. When people have enough, this is what happens.”
Rubbish and wheelie bins were set alight as well as cars by rioters as they continued to be moved through the streets by armoured police.
One resident of Highmead Road, who did not want to be named, told the PA news agency: “Enough is enough now. This has gone beyond.
“When people are making fun of what’s happening on social media it’s crossed a line.
“This is our neighbourhood and those doing this are just kids. It needs to stop.”
Friends of the two boys, who were from the Ely area, said they were riding a Sur-Ron electric bike without helmets when they died.
They said their families were desperate for further information from the police about what happened.
Bridy Bool, who lives nearby, said she knew the family of Harvey Evans and his mother wanted to know which hospital her son had been taken to.
“The police are not telling her where her boy is - she has been waiting all night and morning,” she said.
“They are not telling them - they are waiting for the family liaison officer. It was 2.40am when her boy’s body got moved from there. I’ve just left her house now.
“There’s no support. They are on the phone but there is no support on the ground - all this is going on and they are nowhere.”
Ms Bool claimed the fatal crash occurred because “they were being chased by the police”.
“I know they were being chased by the police as there are videos going around that the police were chasing them,” she said.
“They didn’t have helmets on and there was no reason for them to be chased.
“Harvey had just eaten his tea and had left his mum’s. He had been at home all day with his mum, and he went with his friend, and this happened.”
Paying tribute to the teenager, she said: “Harvey was such a young boy, a sociable boy, he had loads of friends and he loved motorbikes and football.
“He was best friends with Kyrees and were into the same things. It was not unusual for them to be together.”