The inquest into the death of Andrew Hall, who had been restrained in police custody, began on Tuesday.
Andrew, a black man from Huddersfield in West Yorkshire, died on 13 September 2014 after being restrained at Huddersfield Police Station.
Before his death Andrew had been suffering with pain from his long-standing arthritis, affecting his ability to sleep.
The day before his death Andrew hadn’t been able to sleep for long periods of time. That night he took prescribed medication to help, but his partner was concerned by noises he was making and called an ambulance.
He was taken to Huddersfield Royal Infirmary at around 2am and was unresponsive and treated for an overdose. Throughout the night Andrew’s consciousness fluctuated and he was repeatedly disorientated.
At around 7am, while being assisted to the toilet by his partner, Andrew reportedly hit a nurse.
Police were called and took him into police custody.
While at Huddersfield Police Station, Andrew was subject to forcible restraint.
“Officers forcibly moved him and then restrained him and it appears that during this ... one [or] more of the officers struck Andrew Hall multiple times. He may have struck back,” court records report.
Andrew’s condition deteriorated and paramedics were called. On his return to hospital he was wearing handcuffs and leg restraints. He died later that night.
In 2019 a High Court judge overturned the coroner’s decision to screen all 16 officers and a custody nurse. This would’ve meant they could be hidden from public view while giving evidence during the inquest.
Although two officers—C and N—will be able to give evidence behind screens.
Deborah Coles, director of the Inquest charity, said, “We repeatedly see defensive and combative tactics by police lawyers in the growing number of anonymity requests at inquests.
“This is about justice being done and being seen to be done. Anonymity goes against the spirit of an open and transparent investigation and hinders scrutiny of public officials.”
Andrew's family want answers about how the police acted and hope the inquest will give them justice.
Natalie Dyer, Andrew’s partner, said, “As a family we want justice for Andrew and we want the truth to be uncovered and for no family to suffer as we have. We cannot comprehend how or why this happened to Andrew and hope that we get our questions answered during the inquest process.”
The disproportionate number of black people dying after force or restraint is further evidence that the police are institutionally racist—despite the Tories trying to convince us otherwise.