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Restraint of drug-swallower was proportionate, says watchdog

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Edir Frederico Da Costa lost consciousness after his arrest and died a week later. Violence erupted at protests that followed.

Police at the protest following the death of Edir Frederico Da Costa. Photo: PA Wire

Police at the protest following the death of Edir Frederico Da Costa. Photo: PA Wire

Date - 30th October 2018
By - Ian Weinfass - Police Oracle


An investigation into the death of a man in London which sparked clashes at a protest against police has concluded the use of force used to restrain him was proportionate.

The watchdog has also found that one officer may have committed misconduct over his use of CS spray.

Edir Frederico Da Costa died a week after being restrained by Met Police officers in Newham, east London, on June 15 last year.

Officers stopped the car he was travelling in and the 25-year-old tried to swallow a number of bags containing crack cocaine and heroin.

While detaining Mr Da Costa the officers restrained him using handcuffs, and one officer used CS spray.

Mr Da Costa lost consciousness. A second team of officers arrived at the scene and carried out first aid. An ambulance was called and he was taken to hospital.

He did not regain consciousness and died on 21 June 2017.

Six officers were injured and four people arrested at a protest about his death, a few days later.

Campaigners had claimed Mr Da Costa's neck was broken and he was "brutally beaten" after the car, containing three people, was stopped in the Beckton area.

But the Independent Office for Police Conduct has reiterated and expanded on its earlier statement, saying that that the post mortem report shows there was no fracture to his neck or spinal injury, nor a broken collarbone or bleed on the brain.

The cause of his death was hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy – a lack of oxygen to the brain caused by a blocked airway.

The watchdog has concluded that the stop of his car was justified and that the restraint of Da Costa was necessary and proportionate.

But it has said one officer has a case to answer for misconduct over the way CS spray was deployed.

The same officer and two others should receive management action over the speed in which they called for an ambulance, and one of those officers should receive management action over providing incorrect information about Mr Da Costa’s condition, it said.

A fourth officer should receive management action over a comment they made in a statement providing their reasons for carrying out the stop.

The IOPC’s statement said that this “comment revealed preconceptions the officer may hold about the driver’s age, race and gender in relation to the make and cost of the vehicle although it did not impact upon his treatment of the driver and was thus not deemed discriminatory”.

The watchdog concluded there was no indication the officers’ actions in carrying out the stop were discriminatory.

IOPC regional director Jonathan Green said: “Edir's death has had a devastating impact upon his family and friends, and our thoughts remain with all of those affected.

“At the outset of our investigation a large amount of conflicting information began circulating regarding what happened to Edir.

“We have attempted, when possible, to provide information to counter this, and have taken the step of announcing our findings ahead of the inquest in the interests of transparency.

“We have conducted a rigorous investigation that has revealed a number of areas of concern regarding the actions of four officers. The Metropolitan Police has agreed with this conclusion and action will be taken.

“It will be for an inquest, scheduled for next year, to determine how Edir died.”

A final report will be published after his inquest takes place.

A comprehensive review of advice to officers about searching people suspected of putting drugs or other packages in their mouths is being carried out by the Faculty of Forensic and Legal Medicine, the National Police Chiefs’ Council and College of Policing.

View On Police Oracle

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