Pathologist says ‘critical event’ took place in van

VAN DRIVERfrom Socialist Worker Online
1st December 2009

Mikey Powell died in police custody because of the way he was restrained, a medical expert told the ongoing inquest into the Birmingham man’s death.

Evidence is continuing to be heard at an inquest at Sutton Coldfield town hall into the death of Mikey Powell. He died six years ago in a prison cell at Thornhill Road police station after being arrested outside his family home in Lozells, Birmingham. Officers used CS gas and physical force to control Mikey after he smashed windows at his mother’s home in September 2003.

He was handcuffed, bundled into a van and taken to Thornhill Road police station in Handsworth where he died after suffering a cardiac arrest. It is not known if Mikey was forced to lie face down or on his side in the police van.

Jack Crane, a forensic pathologist, said a “critical” event had happened in the van, which caused Mikey to die of positional asphyxia—a condition that occurs when someone’s position prevents them from breathing adequately.

Dr Crane, a former Northern Ireland state pathologist, said, “Laying on your front with one’s hands handcuffed behind one’s back with an individual exhausted is one of the most dangerous positions an individual can be put in.

“We have a person fully conscious when put in the van. A short time later he’s effectively dead and suffers a cardiac arrest.

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