Police hope a public inquiry into the death of Sheku Bayoh will end years of “speculation and accusation disguised as facts”.
The Scottish Police Federation, which represents more than 18,500 officers and cadets, has welcomed the announcement of full inquiry as a helpful step.
The actions of police have been under the spotlight since Mr Bayoh, 32, died after being restrained by up to nine officers in a Kirkcaldy street in May 2015.
David Kennedy, the federation’s deputy general secretary, said an inquiry would allow for a full and independent examination of the facts.
His comments came as Mr Bayoh’s sister Kadi Johnson branded Police Scotland institutionally racist.
Mr Kennedy said: “We welcome the decision to hold a public inquiry which will allow for a full and independent examination of the facts.
“It is a helpful step which will allow the facts to be established and hopefully this will bring an end to speculation and accusation disguised as facts.
“It is unfortunate that it has taken four-and-a-half years for this decision to be made, however the Scottish Police Federation continues to support the officers involved.”
Mr Bayoh is thought to have suffocated as police sat on his back as they restrained him, although drugs may also have played a part in his death.
The police, who say they were responding to reports of a man behaving erratically while carrying a knife, have always denied any wrongdoing.
The public inquiry, announced by Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf on Tuesday, will examine the circumstances leading up to and following the father-of-two’s death, including whether his race played any part in it.
Mrs Johnson, 42, said she believed race was a factor.
She told BBC Good Morning Scotland: “We believe race played its part in the way my brother died because the way they treated him, the way they treated us as a family, all of that proved that race was involved in his death.”
Asked whether Police Scotland is institutionally racist, she replied: “Yes I think so, I think it’s institutional racism in the police force.”
Deputy Chief Constable Fiona Taylor said: “Our thoughts remain with Sheku Bayoh’s family and friends following his death and we continue to offer support to anyone affected by this tragic incident.
“The Cabinet Secretary for Justice Humza Yousaf has determined that there will be a public inquiry under the Inquiries Act 2005 and we will engage fully with that process.
“Police Scotland is committed to providing a policing service to all of our fellow citizens based on our core values of integrity, fairness and respect.”