UK: Watchdog rules force used on father who died after after Beckton police stop was proportionate

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Watchdog rules force used on father who died after after Beckton police stop was ‘proportionate’
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"An investigation into the death of Edir Frederico Da Costa, known as Edson, who died a week after being restrained by police in Beckton found the use of force by officers was proportionate.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) also revealed one officer may have committed misconduct over his use of CS spray.

...Edson, 25, died in hospital six days after being stopped by police in Tollgate Road on June 15 last year.

The investigation found that before or during the stop, he tried to swallow bags found to contain crack cocaine and heroin.

He lost consciousness while being handcuffed. The officer used CS spray around the same time.

The watchdog concluded on Tuesday that police were justified in stopping the car.

It recommended the officer who used CS spray should be dealt with by managers and not face disiplinary action.

He and fellow officers face the same over the speed with which paramedics were contacted.

One of those officers provided incorrect information about Edson’s condition and should be dealt with by managers.

A fourth officer who made a comment about the Mercedes car driver’s age, race and gender should face the same measure.

The officers’ actions in carrying out the stop were not discriminatory, the watchdog concluded."

See: Watchdog rules force used on father who died after after Beckton police stop was ‘proportionate’ (Newham Recorder, link)

IOPC conclusions: Edir Frederico Da Costa investigation conclusions released (originally published here)

An investigation into the detention of Edir Frederico Da Costa, who tragically died a week later, has concluded the use of force in restraining him was proportionate but one officer may have committed misconduct over his use of CS spray.

Mr Da Costa was detained by Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) officers in Newham at about 10pm on 15 June 2017, after officers performed a stop on a car he was travelling in.

Either before or during that detention Mr Da Costa attempted to swallow a number of bags which were later found to contain crack cocaine and heroin.

While detaining Mr Da Costa the officers restrained him with handcuffs including one officer using CS spray and Mr Da Costa lost consciousness. A second team of officers arrived at the scene and carried out first aid. An ambulance was called and he was taken to hospital.

He did not regain consciousness and died on 21 June 2017.

Our investigation began in June 2017 following a mandatory referral from the MPS and concluded in July 2018.

Five officers were served notice that they were the subject of an investigation.

We examined the reason for the stop, the use of force by the officers including the use of the CS spray and the level of care provided to Mr Da Costa when he lost consciousness. We also considered whether the actions of the officers could be considered discriminatory.

These issues were examined to see if the actions taken were in line with local and national policies and guidelines. We also considered if any criminal offences had been committed.

We provided our report and the rationale for our decisions to the MPS, and the following has been agreed:

  • The reason to carry out the stop was justified. The officers were deployed as part of an operation focussed on tackling gang related activity. Officers stated they believed the Mercedes Mr Da Costa was in may have been a hire car. Using hire cars is a known tactic employed by gangs
  • The restraint of Mr Da Costa by officers was necessary and proportionate
  • One officer has a case to answer for misconduct over the way they deployed CS spray
  • The same officer and two others should receive management action over the speed in which they called London Ambulance Service (LAS) and one of those officers receive management action over providing incorrect information about Mr Da Costa’s condition
  • A fourth officer should receive management action over a comment they made in a statement providing their reasons for carrying out the stop. The comment revealed preconceptions the officer may hold about the driver’s age, race and gender in relation to the make and cost of the vehicle although it did not impact upon his treatment of the driver and was thus not deemed discriminatory
  • There was no indication the officers’ actions in carrying out the stop were discriminatory

During the investigation we identified conflicting advice given to police nationally about searching people suspected of placing drugs or other packages in their mouths and the MPS voluntarily suspended mouth-searching in suspected drugs cases. MPS has maintained this position pending a comprehensive review by the Faculty of Forensic and Legal Medicine, the National Police Chiefs Council and the College of Policing.

Contrary to some speculation the post mortem report states that Mr Da Costa did not suffer a fracture of the neck or spinal injury, nor a broken collarbone or bleed on the brain and gave his cause of death as hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy – a lack of oxygen to the brain caused by a blocked airway.

IOPC Regional Director Jonathan Green said: “Edir’s death has had a devastating impact upon his family and friends, and our thoughts remain with all of those affected.

“At the outset of our investigation a large amount of conflicting information began circulating regarding what happened to Edir.

“We have attempted, when possible, to provide information to counter this, and have taken the step of announcing our findings ahead of the inquest in the interests of transparency.

“We have conducted a rigorous investigation that has revealed a number of areas of concern regarding the actions of four officers. The Metropolitan Police has agreed with this conclusion and action will be taken.

“It will be for an inquest, scheduled for next year, to determine how Edir died.”

We will publish our final report and rationale at the conclusion of the inquest.

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