Statement below by Mikey’s brother-in-law, Chris Lambrias
“Mikey was a hardworking, loving father of three boys – that’s how he will be remembered by his family and friends. “But for others, Mikey has become just another statistic, another person added to the growing list of deaths in custody where no police officer has been held accountable.”
On September 7 2003, Mikey was experiencing a severe psychotic episode when police officers were called by my distraught aunt, Clarissa Powell. After a brief verbal altercation, the attending officers drove a police car at Mikey knocking him down, then beat him with batons, CS gassed him, and violently restrained him. Knowing he was injured, they drove him to a police station not a hospital. He died of asphyxiation after being restrained face down on the floor of the police van.
What was the legal implication?
Michael Powell, 38, died in the early hours of September 7, 2003, after he was detained outside his mother’s home in Birmingham. Inspector Tony Guest, acting sergeant Chris Wilson and constables Tim Lewis, David Hadley, Nigel Hackett and Steven Hollyman, all based at the city’s Thornhill Road police station, were subsequently prosecuted over his death. Sgt Wilson, 31, Inspector Guest, 49, Pc Hollyman, 46, and Pc Hackett, 40, were acquitted by a jury at Leicester Crown Court of misconduct in a public office. Pc Lewis, 33, and Pc Hadley, 27, were cleared of battery, but the jury failed to reach a verdict on whether the pair were guilty of dangerous driving.
As is the case with many deaths in custody, the police and the media made attempts to damage public perceptions of Mikey. Within days of his passing a report was leaked that police had driven at him because they believed he had a gun. The media narrative suggested Mikey was a “gun-toting thug” from an area of Birmingham known for gun crime during the period. Although the family forced a retraction of this report, they felt that the seed had already been planted in the minds of the public.
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.