from Birmingham Post
15th December 2009
A Birmingham man who died in police custody should not have been taken to a police station in a van, police conceded before an inquest jury.
Father-of-three Michael Powell was restrained by several officers after smashing windows at his mother’s home in Wilton Street, Lozells, and attacking a police car. He was conscious at the time he was bundled into a police van and taken to the cells at Thornhill Road police station. But on his arrival officers became increasingly concerned that he had no pulse, had saliva foaming from his mouth and his body was limp.
He was rushed to the A&E department at City Hospital where, despite the best efforts of doctors, he was pronounced dead minutes after his arrival.
In summing up all the evidence heard at the inquest into Mr Powell’s sudden death, assistant deputy coroner Stephen Campbell referred to an earlier statement from Inspector Anthony Guest.
Insp Guest, who has since retired from the force, had told the inquest jury how detaining Mr Powell in a police van, following the disturbance in September 2003, was the ‘last thing he wanted to do’.
He had said: “Sergeant (Christopher) Wilson took the decision to call the van. “An ambulance would not be used for a violent man. “The last thing I wanted to do was put someone on the floor in the van but it was the only alternative.”