Who was Jacob Michael?
Jacob Michael lived in Widnes, Cheshire. He was of mixed heritage and a beloved son to his parents, Jake and Ann Michael.
Jacob Michael died on 22 August 2011, aged 25 following arrest and restraint by police. He called the police himself, agitated after telling his family that he had been threatened. When the police got to his house they forced their way into his bedroom spraying him with incapacitant spray, which caused Jacob to run out of his house and down the street where he was chased by police and hit with batons. They restrained him and put him in the back of a police van to take him to Runcorn police station.
Witness, Dominic Smith, said one officer had his knee on Jacob's head, pushing his face into the road. A mass of police then piled on top of him. Nothing could be seen of Jacob except his trainers. He was then left face down on the floor of a police cell for several minutes with police officers standing on his legs.
Jacob’s dad said "My son rang the police for help but basically they came here and pepper-sprayed him in his own bedroom." He added, "All he needed was a doctor, not the police." The Michaels family also said an IPCC (Independent Police Complaints Commission) investigator has seen CCTV footage from the custody suite's foyer, which shows their son being held flat on his stomach with his face pressed into the floor for six minutes, handcuffed. The IPPC also told Jacob’s parents that another police officer alerted those restraining Jacob that the colour had drained from his face. Only then was an ambulance called.
What was the legal implication?
The jury found that the police officers and staff that dealt with Jacob were ineffectively trained and they did not follow the procedures of adequate force. They did not perform medical assessment fast enough, leading to a delayed call for medical assistance which showed there was a lack of communication. The jury also said that Jacob’s flight / fight response may have contributed to his death. This refers in part to the violent arrest and restraint that expert evidence said could have been avoided.
The Coroner drew attention to the Chief Constable of Cheshire, that there have now been two deaths in his custody within a short period of time. In both incidents, the individuals were not recognised as being in urgent need of medical attention. No officers have been suspended by Cheshire police over the event.
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.