The family of a man with paranoid schizophrenia who died in police custody are calling for the officers involved to be prosecuted after an inquest found his restraint contributed to his death.
Kevin Clarke died at Lewisham Hospital in 2018 following an incident in Catford, south-east London.
An inquest at Southwark Coroner’s Court this month heard the 35-year-old told officers “I’m going to die” and “I can’t breathe” as they handcuffed him due to his size.
He lost consciousness as he was taken to an ambulance and the cause of his death was given as “acute behavioural disturbance, in a relapse of schizophrenia, leading to exhaustion and cardiac arrest, contributed to by restraint, struggle and being walked”.
Returning a narrative conclusion on Friday after five days of deliberations, the inquest jury found the decision to use restraints on Clarke was “inappropriate”.
The jury concluded that it was also “highly likely” that at least one officer heard Clarke say “I can’t breathe” on more than one occasion – despite their testimony to the contrary.
Acting for Clarke’s family, Leslie Thomas QC told HuffPost UK the family will ask the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to review evidence in light of the jury’s findings to see whether any officer should face criminal charges.
An IOPC investigation concluded in March last year that Met Police officers had a case to answer for misconduct. This was rejected by the Met, which sent eight officers on training courses, however accepted that a ninth officer had a case to answer, which remains under review.
Thomas said: “This was a very, very smart jury that was making it clear they did not want their conclusions challenged.
“At every stage they accepted the arguments we were making and they rejected what the ambulance was saying and what the police were saying. They even rejected what the experts said.”
Namely, Thomas is referring to the testimony of Jonathan Benger, a professor of emergency...