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Scientist slams ‘meaningless excuse’ of a death diagnosis

This article is over 8 years, 5 months old
Issue 2364

Excited delirium is a diagnosis used by coroners to explain ten restraint-related deaths that occurred in police custody in England and Wales since the late 1990s.

Police defence lawyers have argued for it in at least seven other cases. The term is used as a means of suggesting a victim would have died even if officers had not restrained them.

It is claimed individuals in the throes of excited delirium are aggressive, agitated, displaying bizarre behaviour, insensitive to pain and have superhuman strength.

Dr Nat Cary, a leading forensic pathologist said, “Excited delirium is a way of offering an excuse on behalf of the state for a death in custody.

“It is a meaningless catch-all term that appears repeatedly in restraint cases when the individual is seen acting aggressively, and is on drugs or mentally ill.”

Deadly restraint method

Police aren’t prevented from using any restraint technique as long as an officer can say the use of force was proportionate.

According to the IPCC, between 1998 and 2009, restraint was a direct or contributory factor in 16 deaths. Campaigners believe the real number is far higher.

Police officers regularly use a dangerous technique that is banned in prisons. Known as “prone restraint”, it involves forcing a suspect face down onto the floor, cuffing their hands behind their back and then putting pressure on their torso, shoulders and neck. 

One officer may pin the suspect’s body to the floor with a knee on their back, while another may immobilise the suspect’s head by kneeling on their neck.

Asphyxiated in his own home

two Kent Police officers have been found not guilty of allowing a mentally ill man to die in front of them after detaining him in his home.

PCs Maurice Leigh and Neil Bowdery (above) both denied misconduct over the death of paranoid schizophrenic Colin Holt.

Colin died from positional asphyxia at his flat in Gillingham on 30 August 2010 after the officers were called to return him to hospital.

Found dead in G4S prison

Marlon McIntosh was serving a nine?week sentence for theft when he was found dead on 30 April this year. An inquest has been opened and adjourned.

 Security firm G4S runs the prison. It said the Prisons Ombudsman was investigating.

Marlon was arrested on New Year’s Eve on suspicion of shoplifting.

‘Stun gun’ that stops hearts

Cops often fire tasers in the exact way the weapon’s makers say not to.

Taser International started explicitly warning users not to fire at the chest in 2009. It can cause heart attacks.

But the 18 forces that provide figures fired tasers 884 times since then—and 518 of them hit the chest area.

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