Actions by police “contributed” to the death of a black man in Coventry in 2017, an inquest has found.
Darren Cumberbatch died in hospital in July 2017, nine days after being punched, stamped on, Tasered and hit with a baton by cops.
The inquest jury on Tuesday returned a narrative conclusion, finding that “the police’s restraint of Darren contributed to his death”.
The jury also found serious failings by the cops, including ineffective communication and the lack of a meaningful plan in responding to Darren.
Darren’s medical cause of death was multiple organ failure resulting from cocaine use in association with restraint and related physical exertion. The 32 year old was one of five black men to die after use of force by police in 2017.
The inquest heard that police used what may have been excessive and probably avoidable restraint on Darren while he was suffering from mental health problems. The restraint included baton strikes, physical strikes, punches, stamping, Tasers and handcuffing.
Darren had been released from prison in May 2017 and was living at a bail hostel in Nuneaton. On 10 July 2017 staff contacted police to raise concerns about his behaviour. Darren had suffered depression and anxiety, and appeared agitated, paranoid and afraid.
Darren went into a small toilet cubicle after police arrived. Seven officers soon entered the cubicle and hit Darren with batons, discharged Tasers three times and directed an incapacitant spray, PAVA, at Darren.
Officers also punched him multiple times and stamped on him. It isn’t clear that Darren was posing any threat to the officers.
Darren was then restrained and taken to a police van. Officers told the inquest that they recognised that Darren was suffering from Acute Behavioural Disorder or Excited Delirium, but they didn’t tell the ambulance service about their concerns.
Police again restrained Darren on the ground when he was removed from the van and taken into George Elliot Hospital. While he was handcuffed, extra restraints were applied to his thighs and ankles.
The inquest heard that Darren was hyperventilating when he was taken into the emergency department. Darren was further restrained in the hospital, despite appearing distressed and saying the handcuffs were too tight.
He remained in mechanical restraints at the hospital for over an hour. His health declined over the following days and he died on 19 July. Pathologist Dr Hunt told the inquest that he was confident the restraint had contributed to Darren’s death.
Darren’s sister Carla said she hoped the conclusions would stop police from using harmful restraint. “All citizens need equal rights and justice and to be treated with compassion and care,” she said.
Director of the INQUEST campaigning group Deborah Coles said, “There is no justification for the brutal use of force Warwickshire police deployed against Darren.
“Such violence is no way to respond to a man experiencing a mental health crisis.”