Socialist Worker

Police officers cleared of misconduct over Adrian McDonald's death in custody

by Alistair Farrow
Issue No. 2601

Adrians family has slammed the decision

Adrian's family has slammed the decision (Pic: Rossographer/

Two cops who previously had misconduct rulings against them in relation to the death of Adrian McDonald have had appeals against the ruling upheld.

Adrian died after being shot with a taser and bitten by a police dog in Stoke-on-Trent on 22 December 2014. Police broke down the door to his home, after which he was put in a police van and not checked on for almost seven minutes. In this time he became unresponsive

In a statement his family slammed the decision. “We are devastated at the appeal decision which makes no sense to us at all,” they said. “The officers and their Police Federation colleague publicly laughed and joked before the result was announced.

“We can only hope that the Inquest into this tragic death, to take place in November 2018, will bring to light the true circumstances of what occurred leading to the death of our beloved Adrian.”

The two cops—sergeant Jason Bromley and retired inspector Richard Bills—had their internal police misconduct rulings upheld by the Police Appeals Tribunal on 17 April. The original ruling was based on a “misunderstanding” at the original tribunal hearing.

The tribunal consisted of lawyer Sam Stein, Lincolnshire Police Chief Constable Bill Skelly and retired police inspector Steve Douglass.

Adrian’s family previously called the misconduct charges a “slap on the wrists” after the initial hearings in September last year.

Now the two cops will have written warnings related to the incident struck off their records.

Staffordshire police had initially said it respected the findings of the initial tribunal against the two officers. It sent “condolences” to Adrian’s family.

Deborah Coles, the director of the Inquest organisation, said, “This decision brings the police misconduct system into disrepute, and sets a dangerous precedent.

“We hope the upcoming inquest will explore the evidence sufficiently to ensure those who should be are properly held to account.”

She went on to point out “the chairman of the Staffordshire Police Federation felt it appropriate to make public and inflammatory speculations about the circumstances of Adrian’s death, prior to an inquest.

“Attempting to demonise a black man as ‘violent’, to blame him for his own death, in order to deflect attention from the conduct of officers, is a familiar tactic that is prejudicial and unacceptable.”

Cops could be charged over Sean Rigg's death 

On Friday of last week the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) announced it recommended charges against five officers for gross misconduct in relation to the death of Sean Rigg.

Sean died on the floor of the holding area at Brixton police station on 21 August 2008.

Also on Friday of last week cop Andrew Birks’s second attempt to challenge a decision to block his resignation was successful. He has officially been suspended from duty rather than allowed to retire.

Despite this, the five officers the IOPC has recommended should be charged include Andrew Birks, who is now a Church of England minister.

The judicial review into Birks’s suspension was heard at the High Court on 22 and 23 February.

Delivering his ruling, judge Garnham set out the IOPC's view that there was…

“a. Failure to identify Sean Rigg as a person with mental health problems and failure to ensure he was unharmed whilst he was under arrest.

“b. Failure to ensure that Sean Rigg received proper medical attention as soon as it became apparent that he was seriously ill.

“c. Failure to inform the custody sergeant of information in his possession which would have informed the sergeant so that he could conduct a risk assessment whilst the detainee was waiting outside in the police van.”

Sean’s sister Marcia Rigg said, “My family and I welcome the IOPC’s decision to direct gross misconduct charges for officers involved in Sean’s death.

“As we approach ten years since my brother died following unnecessary and unsuitable restraint, we hope that the hearings will take place as soon as possible and provide some much-needed accountability.”

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