Family weep as verdict returned

Clarissa Powell (Mother)from Birmingham Mail
15th December 2009

The family of a man who died in police custody wept tears of joy as they claimed that an inquest had given them “truth and justice”. The jury at the hearing found that Michael Powell died from positional asphyxia caused by lying on his front in the back of a police van.

The jury also recorded that Mr Powell, aged 38, became more vulnerable to death for one or more possible reasons. They included being hit by a moving police car, being sprayed with CS gas, being struck by a baton or being restrained on the ground while suffering a psychosis and extreme exertion.

It took the ten-man jury three days to reach an eight-to-two majority verdict. They could not agree on whether the police restraint was “reasonable in the circumstances”.

The father-of-three died on September 7, 2003, at the age of 38.

He 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 arrival he had no pulse, had saliva foaming from his mouth and his body was limp. He was taken to the A&E department at City Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

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