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INQUEST INTO DEATH OF JACOB MICHAEL IN POLICE CUSTODY IN RUNCORN TO BEGIN MONDAY 1 OCTOBER
27 September 2012
9.30am, Monday 1 October 2012
Daresbury Park Hotel, Warrington, Cheshire, WA4 4BB
Before HM Coroner Nicholas Rheinberg
The inquest into the death of Jacob Michael will begin on Monday 1 October at the Daresbury Park Hotel in Warrington.
Jacob Michael died on 22 August 2011 aged 25 following arrest and restraint by police. He had called the police himself in an agitated state after telling his family he had been threatened. The police arrived at the house and forced their way into his bedroom, spraying incapacitant spray at him, whereupon Mr Michael ran out of the house and down the street. The police pursued him, striking him with batons and restraining him before putting him in the back of a police van to take him into custody at Runcorn police station.
He was then left face down on the floor of a police cell for several minutes with police officers standing on his legs, where he died.
On the first day of the inquest, the jury will be shown disturbing CCTV film of Jacob Michael being pursued by police officers wielding batons in the street outside his home, being transported in the police van, arriving at the custody suite and then being held face down on the cell floor where he died. More than 60 witnesses are listed to give evidence including Jacob’s mother, civilian eye witnesses and police officers. The inquest is scheduled to last for four weeks.
Jacob Michael’s family hope the inquest will answer serious questions concerning the officers’ actions when they entered his bedroom, the use of force by police in the street, the restraint itself, the failure to treat him as a medical emergency rather than take him to the police station, his treatment in the police station, and the overall attitude of police to a young man who was clearly confused, frightened and unwell.
Ann Michael, Jacob Michael’s mother said:
“My son called the police for help and they sprayed him with pepper spray and arrested him. Two hours later there was a knock on my door by the police to say that he had passed away. He was a fit twenty five year old man. I want to know why. I just can’t understand it.”
Deborah Coles, INQUEST co-director said:
“Yet again, we begin an inquest into a death following restraint in police custody of a young black man. This is a particularly disturbing and distressing death, made all the more so by the existence of CCTV footage for much of his last minutes alive. Serious questions must be asked about how a young man in distress came to be hit with batons, restrained, and disregarded while he lay dying on a police cell floor.
“It is vital both for Jacob Michael’s family and the public that this is a far reaching and thorough inquest into his death.”
Kate Maynard, solicitor instructed by the family, said:
“The family and the local community need to know how and why Jacob died in police hands. The family feels that the IPCC had not adequately investigated Jacob’s death and they now look to the inquest proceedings to get the answers they need”.
The family is being represented by INQUEST Lawyers Group members Adam Sandell of Matrix Chambers, instructed by Kate Maynard of Hickman & Rose Solicitors.
‘I was already working with INQUEST, which is the organisation who monitor deaths in custody, and at one AGM I told the audience that what happened to these people [killed in police custody like Chistopher Alder, Roger Sylvester and many others] could happen to any of us. And then a couple of years later, I was standing in front of them again but now it had happened to my cousin. So my family and me were now “users” of Inquest. It shows you that none of us are immune – here am I, Benjamin Zephaniah, patron of INQUEST and client of INQUEST at the same time.’
– Benjamin Zephaniah