The restraint of the police "likely" caused the death of a paranoid schizophrenic black man

Police use of restraint systems on a mentally ill man was "inappropriate" and contributed to his death, an investigative jury determined today found.

Kevin Clarke, a recurrent paranoid schizophrenic, died in police custody at Lewisham Hospital in 2018 following an incident on Polsted Road in Catford, south east London.

An investigation at Southwark Coroner & # 39; s Court found the 35-year-old told officers I will die if he was handcuffed because of his size but was "ignored" and then passed out when he was admitted an ambulance.

One of his friends paid tribute, saying that Mr. Clarke "feared" the police because of their past abuse and abuse.

Kevin Clarke, who was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia at age 17, lived in police custody at Lewisham Hospital for about two years at the nearby Jigsaw Project, a support service for people with mental health problems, for about two years until his death in 2018

After five days of deliberation, an investigative jury concluded that the decision to apply restrictions on Mr. Clarke was "inappropriate".

The jury said the use of restraint systems "probably contributed more than minimally or trivially" to his death, adding that it was inappropriate as it was not considered given the risk to police and the public.

The jury said: "It is very likely that at least one officer overheard Mr. Clarke say" I cannot breathe "on one of the occasions he repeated it.

Even so, nothing was done but an officer who said, "You have to breathe, you have to breathe, breathe, take a deep breath."

"Failure to remove restrictions at this point was against guidance and training."

Mr. Clarke lived on the Jigsaw Project, a residential support service, for approximately two years until his death in hospital on March 9, 2018.

It was seen by officers earlier that day but was not split up despite concerns from Jigsaw staff.

The police were called again later that day and Mr. Clarke was found lying on the ground on the edge of a school playing field.

An ambulance was called after the situation was classified as a "medical emergency" and Mr. Clarke was handcuffed in two sets of handcuffs because of his size, along with leg rests.

Pc Lee Pidgeon, who was one of several officers on the scene, told the investigation that Mr. Clarke had started to get "a little fidgety" and that using handcuffs to hold him back was appropriate as he showed signs of one show acute conduct disorder.

In body-worn camera footage, Mr. Clarke could be heard moaning, saying "I can't breathe" and "I'm going to die".

When asked by coroner Andrew Harris why Mr. Clarke was "ignored" by the officers present, Pc Pidgeon replied, "I cannot answer that, sir, I do not know."

The London Ambulance Service (LAS) has already admitted that its crew did not conduct a "full clinical assessment" of Mr. Clarke upon arrival.

This constituted a "failure to provide basic health care," which an investigative jury said may have contributed to his death.

The cause of death was given as "acute conduct disorder in a relapse of schizophrenia leading to fatigue and cardiac arrest, to which restraint, fighting and walking contributed".

Clarke, 35, died in police custody at Lewisham Hospital (pictured) in March 2018 following an incident on Polsted Road in Catford, southeast London

Leslie Thomas, family attorney, said it was "obvious" that Mr Clarke was having difficulty breathing and the force used by the police was "completely disproportionate".

He said the way the officers moved Mr. Clarke put him at risk, adding, “(One officer) keeps his head down and his torso bent forward.

"You took the risk that Kevin's breathing would be affected."

Pc John Buckingham said Mr. Clarke had been placed in limb cuffs "so that he would not further harm himself, me or my colleagues in the immediate area".

Wendy Clarke, paying tribute to her firstborn child, described Mr. Clarke as a "kind, gentle giant" and said he once told her, "I am a lover, not a fighter".

She added, "Kevin had told me he feared the police because they had abused and verbally abused him in the past."

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