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Jury concluded that restraint and communication failures contributed to the death of Philmore Mills
Jury concluded that restraint and communication failures contributed to the death of Philmore Mills.
Philmore Mills was a 57 year old man described by his eldest daughter as a bubbly man who got on well with most people. He was admitted to hospital with breathing problems and later on diagnosed with a tumour in his lung. His family saw him last on Boxing Day four years ago. He was wearing an oxygen mask at the time as he needed assistance with his breathing. He was disappointed about not being home for Christmas but the indication from the medical staff was that he should be expected to return home soon. 8 hours after this visit, Philmore was dead after having been restrained by police.
Today, after hearing four weeks of evidence, the jury returned their narrative conclusions on the circumstances in which Philmore Mills died.
The family of Philmore Mills said:
“It’s been four stressful years to get to this point. We have now listened to four weeks of evidence about how events unfolded like a car crash in slow motion. Yet we are none the wiser as to how a seriously ill man with pneumonia, heart and lung disease, lung cancer and blood clots in his lungs could have been allowed to die under police restraint on the floor of a respiratory ward. It is shocking that neither the nurses, security staff or police officers spoke to each other before restraining him. None of the witnesses accepted responsibility for the death of our father/grandfather. No family should have to go through what we have gone through. We hope that all those involved will reflect on their actions and that lessons will be learned.”
Kate Maynard, family solicitor, Hickman & Rose said:
“A report ‘Police Use of Force’ issued by the IPCC today revealed “troubling issues”, including the death of five people during or following the use of force by police in hospital. Dame Ann Owers expressed concerns about the use of force on those who were particularly vulnerable (see IPCC report on police use of force here).
In this case, the jury found that pressure was applied to Mr Mills’ shoulder sufficient to cause bruising while he was restrained face down on the floor. They also found that restraint contributed to his death and that a failure of communication between the police, security and nurses and with Mr Mills played a part.”
Deborah Coles, Director of INQUEST said:
“Philmore Mills was a vulnerable and seriously ill black man in need of help and yet he was failed by those who should have been there to protect and care for him. For a man so obviously unwell to be handcuffed and restrained in such a terrifying way in a healthcare setting raises serious concerns about the culture and practice in policing and health provision. This is not an isolated case. There are a disproportionate number of deaths involving the restraint of men from black and ethnic minority communities. The failures in this case, which have been exposed through the relentless attempts of the family to get to the truth, should prompt a thorough review, reflection and reform in the way the police and health service respond to people in crisis.”
INQUEST has been working with the family of Philmore Mills since January 2012. The family is represented by INQUEST Lawyers Group members Kate Maynard from Hickman and Rose Solicitors and Leslie Thomas QC from Garden Court Chambers.
For more information please contact Kate Maynard from Hickman and Rose Solicitors on 07812 974613 or Selen Cavcav from INQUEST on 0207 263 1111
‘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