Sam Diatta death: Police confirm 'no evidence' of robbery before disturbance at Mappin and Webb in York

North Yorkshire Police have confirmed that the man who died at the Mappin and Webb jewellery store in York was not suspected of robbing it.

Former York Railway Institute rugby league player Samuel Diatta, 39, died while being restrained at the luxury watch specialists on Coney Street on JUly 26 and several arrests have been made.

Yet police confirmed he suffered a medical episode and his family said he had a history of mental illness.

False rumours had spread claiming that Mr Diatta was a suspect in a robbery, and this has now been refuted by North Yorkshire Police.

Sam Diatta

Detective Inspector Steve Menzies said: "I am aware of speculation, and some false reporting, regarding the incident at Mappin and Webb jewellers in York on Tuesday evening. This has caused distress to those involved, and to the family of Samuel Diatta, who unfortunately died following the incident.

“A 999 call was received by police at 4.41pm and officers arrived at the scene at 4.46pm. Whilst it is yet to be established why Mr Diatta entered the store, the investigation by the Major Investigation Team has not found any evidence suggestive that this was a robbery.

“Mr Diatta entered the store and became involved in an altercation with a member of security staff. This escalated resulting in the staff member being injured and Mr Diatta being restrained on the floor by a member of the shop staff and three members of the public.

“Upon police arrival, Mr Diatta was found to have become unresponsive, and emergency first aid was administered. Paramedics also arrived and continued to give Mr Diatta first aid at the scene. He was transferred by ambulance to York District Hospital, but unfortunately was pronounced deceased shortly after 6.40pm.

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“As with any unexpected death of this nature, a police investigation is required to establish the facts, to establish whether or not there is any criminality relating to the death, and to get the answers for Mr Diatta’s family and for those involved in the incident, and for the Coroner.

“Four people have been arrested in connection with the incident so that they could be interviewed whilst protecting their legal rights. Two of the men, who are in their 40s, and a man in his 50s were arrested shortly after the incident, and a man in his 50s was arrested on 28 July.

“All four men have been released on bail whilst the police and medical investigations continue.

“As this is a live investigation, I am unable to provide any further information at this time, but we are pursuing a number of lines of investigation which may take a number of weeks to conclude. All further updates will be posted to our website.“

The family of Mr Diatta said: “It is with deep sadness that we announce the death of our beloved son and brother Sam Diatta.

“Sam was a wonderful member of our family who will be greatly missed by us, his friends and family around the world.

“Sam was half-Senegalese and his family in Senegal meant the world to him. He was a keen sportsman and supported both the England and Senegal football sides. He also played for York RI rugby team.

“Sam spent the first nine years of his life living on Leeman Road and attended St Barnabas church and school.

“When we moved to Acomb, Sam attended Poppleton Road Primary School for two years, before heading to Manor C of E School, where he was a popular face in his year group. He belonged to Lidgett Grove Church Cubs and Scouts and enjoyed camping.

“Sadly, in his later teenage years Sam developed mental health issues which stayed with him throughout his life.

“A gentle giant, who was kind and generous and loved by all who met him. He had a strong Christian faith and with two others led the Christian Union at York College.

“As a young teenager he professed his faith in Jesus by being baptised at Acomb Baptist Church.

“We anticipate his funeral/thanksgiving service to be there at a date to be announced later.

“It has caused our family great distress to read some of the news articles online, suggesting Sam was involved in a robbery.

“This is incorrect information as confirmed by North Yorkshire Police and we respectfully ask that these rumours stop.