Adrian McDonald was originally from Huddersfield and had been living in Stoke-on-Trent.
Adrian had been at a birthday party in Chesterton when he began to behave erratically, barricading himself in a room. Staffordshire police were called and reported that the information that had been provided led them to believe he was distressed and rambling. While attempting to arrest him, they tasered and simultaneously set a dog upon him. Evidence was heard that five dog bites from a police Alsatian were found on Adrian’s right arm and leg, which went through Adrian’s skin, fat and into his muscle.
Adrian told police he had taken drugs and was struggling to breathe. He was removed from the flat down the stairs. The jury noted that when exiting the flat, Adrian “began to become paranoid again… but was reassured that he was safe by police officers.” The jury believed that “at this point, no ambulance was necessary.” Adrian was then taken to the police van. Van and police body camera footage was shown at the inquest as evidence of the final minutes of his life. The jury found, “This would have been the appropriate time to complete welfare checks and assess the deceased’s condition.” Welfare checks did not take place.
Whilst one officer stayed in the van, the other two went back into the property to carry out post taser incident procedures. The footage shows Adrian heavily breathing and slumped in the cage area of the van. Adrian was recorded saying, “I can’t breathe” four times, coupled with the word, “Please.” At one point the officer replied, “You can breathe because you are talking, deep breaths.” The jury noted that the officer was ‘coaching’ Adrian to breathe. Still no ambulance was called.
By then Adrian was twitching and shortly afterwards lost consciousness. Evidence heard at the inquest showed that a further nine minutes went past before an ambulance was called, but Adrian could not be saved and was pronounced dead at the scene.
What was the legal implication?
The inquest into the death of Adrian McDonald has today concluded that his death was caused by the “effects of cocaine and stress of incident,” in which he was arrested, restrained, bitten by a police dog, tasered and left in a police van struggling to breathe. The jury’s conclusion stated that due to the use of force, Adrian “became compliant,” however, due to Adrian’s apparent cocaine induced paranoia, the level of force may have increased his stress levels which may have contributed to his death.
Both of the officers previously found guilty of misconduct were cleared of all charges by a tribunal.
If you want to find out more about other victims of police and state violence in the UK, click here.
The proportion of BAME deaths in custody where restraint is a feature is over two times greater than it is in other deaths in custody. The proportion of BAME deaths in custody where use of force is a feature is over two times greater than it is in other deaths in custody. The proportion of BAME deaths in custody where mental health-related issues are a feature is nearly two times greater than it is in other deaths in custody.