Use of force by police on man who later died ‘justified’, inquest jury finds
The use of force by officers involved in a violent struggle in a police station with a man who later died in hospital was “justified, necessary and proportionate”, an inquest jury has found.
A ten-week-long hearing in Bradford was shown CCTV footage of joiner Andrew Hall struggling with police and detention officers who delivered a number of blows as they tried to restrain him at Huddersfield police station after he was taken there from hospital in September 2016.
The 43-year-old was eventually restrained and returned to Huddersfield Royal Infirmary, where he died after a cardiac arrest, the inquest heard.
On Tuesday (June 22), a jury of five men and five women was asked, “was the use of force by the police officers and detention officers justified, necessary and proportionate?” in relation to 13 different points during the “altercation” in the police station as well as during and after his return to hospital.
The jury spokesperson answered a unanimous “yes” to all 13 questions except one – relating to when the officers were attempting to make Mr Hall let go of a metal bar in a corridor – which he said was “yes” on an eight to two majority.
Father-of-three Mr Hall, from Dalton, Huddersfield, was originally taken to the hospital after taking a large amount of alcohol and prescribed drugs but he was arrested and taken to the police station after slapping a nurse.
Assistant coroner Oliver Longstaff told the jury at the opening of the inquest that Mr Hall was initially cooperative in the cells but, after a nurse began assessing his condition, a “violent struggle” ensued, with a number of officers attempting to restrain him.
The whole incident was captured on CCTV, which showed up to six officers struggling with Mr Hall, delivering punches and knee strikes.
Mr Longstaff told the jury at the start of the inquest: “Without doubt, the struggle can be described neutrally as violent.”
Mr Hall was eventually double-handcuffed and put in leg restraints before being taken back to Huddersfield Royal Infirmary, where he was examined lying face down on a trolley, restrained by several police.
The coroner told the jury: “Andrew was still struggling. At this point Andrew was seen to be sweating profusely, spitting and screaming for help, shouting ‘They’re killing me’.”
The coroner said doctors noted that Mr Hall had “apparent injuries” and were concerned about possible brain injuries.
He said witnesses said he was “so distressed and disorientated he did not appear to understand what was being said to him”.
Mr Hall went into cardiac arrest after he was sedated, and could not be resuscitated. It was later found that he had an undiagnosed severe heart condition.
The jury found that Mr Hall died from a complex series of causes which included his heart disease, drug intoxication and “exertion against subsequent restraint”.
As part of its narrative conclusion, the jury found that Mr Hall “became more agitated” after he was taken into police custody.
It said: “When being escorted back to his cell he has ended up in an altercation with officers which has resulted in him having to be restrained by multiple officers.”
The officers involved gave evidence to the inquest anonymously.
Speaking to Channel 4 News, Mr Hall’s partner, Natalie Dyer said: “For them to treat him like this, and for the outcome to be what it was, I’m actually disgraced (sic) with what happened and it’s unforgivable.”
She said: “Instead of treatment and help, he got restrained.”
Asked if she thinks it would have been different if Mr Hall had been white, Ms Dyer said: “Yes. I believed it. I believe he was judged on that. I really do. All they see is a black man, as they’ve done in court, they’ve mentioned his size. They tried to make him out to be a big black man, that they’re all scared of. He was just a regular guy, he was a family man.”