Mohamud Hassan: Family 'devastated' at open conclusion over death of man released from police custody

The police watchdog says it found no evidence that officers caused or contributed to the death of a man who had been detained hours earlier in Cardiff.

After a three-week inquest in Pontypridd, a jury has returned an open conclusion on the death of Mohamud Hassan.

The 24-year-old British-Somali man was arrested on suspicion of breaching the peace after police were called to his Cardiff home on 8 January 2021. He was driven in a police van to a police station.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) said in a statement: "Mr Hassan was restrained by officers in the custody suite, before being carried to a cell and searched.

"He remained in a cell overnight and was then released without charge at around 8.20am on 9 January."

Mr Hassan, a father-to-be, returned to his flat and was found dead at the same property around 10.30pm that night.

The IOPC said a post-mortem "showed there was no physical injury sustained by Mr Hassan to explain a cause of death".

"The post-mortem evidence also stated there was no indication of the use of a Taser, or of weapons such as batons", the watchdog also said, adding the cause of death was given as 'unascertained'.

Following Thursday's open conclusion, his "devastated" family said their "hearts remain broken".

"An open conclusion does not help us to heal," they said. "We accept that an open conclusion was the only option available to the jury because of the uncertainty about Mohamud's cause of death.

"Even though we understand this, sadly this doesn't give us any sense of closure about Mohamud's cause of death, but at least it honestly reflects the continued mystery."

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The family added that they "take comfort that South Wales Police have taken responsibility for the failure to record important details on the custody record and that changes have been promised".

"This important, potentially lifesaving change, should have been implemented before now and all police forces need to do this, not just the 20 or so forces that use the same system as South Wales Police," they said.

Mr Hassan's death sparked protests in Cardiff, including a large demonstration outside Cardiff Bay Police Station, where he had been held.

At the time, his family said via their lawyer that they had been "hugely distressed" by his death.

The IOPC has said its own investigation, which was provided to Mr Hassan's family and submitted to the coroner for the inquest, found "no evidence" that South Wales Police actions contributed to his death.

IOPC director David Ford said his "thoughts and sympathies remain with Mr Hassan's family, and everyone affected by his death".

He continued: "Whilst we identified some areas of learning for South Wales Police and for individuals arising from the events, and a case to answer for one officer for use of force, we found no evidence that the actions of police officers had contributed to Mr Hassan's sad death."

South Wales Police's Assistant Chief Constable Joanna Maal said: "We can only imagine how difficult this period of time has been for Mohamud Hassan's family and the pain and grief that they have endured since his death.

"This case has been the subject of much independent and public scrutiny. Now that the facts have been published and heard during the inquest proceedings we hope that answers have been provided to the many questions which have been raised."