A watchman said police did not take part in the sudden death of a man who was handcuffed in Kerfly Borough just an hour later.
Simon Lowe was pronounced dead at the scene on June 25, 2018, despite receiving emergency medical treatment.
According to the IOPC, members of the public flagged off a passing patrol car at about 2.30pm that day, about the welfare of a man on Blackwood High Street. When officers encountered Mr. Lowe, he was accidentally working on the sidewalk, and an officer grabbed his arm as he walked down a busy street.
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An ambulance was requested with the presence of more officers. According to police watchdog, CCTV footage showed Mr Lowe stumbling and walking in circles before falling to the ground.
Officers handcuffed Mr. Lowe at 2:35 p.m. as he was fighting on the ground. He then approached her to try to activate medical treatment and apply an oxygen mask. At 2:47 p.m., an officer advised the Force Control Room that Mr. Lowe was struggling to breathe, and at 2.52 p.m., he announced that he was now unresponsive. Officers removed the handcuffs a few minutes later, while resuscitation efforts continued. He joined a paramedic at about 3pm and an ambulance crew five minutes later. Mr Lowe was pronounced dead at the scene at 3.48am.
IOPC investigators arrived at the scene later that day, and police began questioning the post-incident procedure, according to Guent police. Investigators took statements from officers involved, paramedics, a passing doctor who tried to help, members of the public and Mr. Lowe’s family. During the investigation, the IOPC said it examined CCTV and video footage of police officers, as well as radio and telephone transmissions. The IOPC considered the relevant force and national policies on the use of force and handcuffs.
Evidence suggests Mr Lowe had taken drugs before the incident. An autopsy concluded that the possible cause of death was MDMA and cocaine poisoning.
Following an inquiry in Newport Coroner’s Court this week, a jury returned the drug-related death sentence today (Thursday), the IOPC said.
At the end of its investigation in April 2019, the IOPC shared its investigation report with the coroner, Mr. Lowe’s family and the Gwent Police.
Katherine Evans, IOPC’s Director for Wales, said: “I once again extend my condolences to the family and friends of Mr. Liu on their tragic loss. We thoroughly investigated the situation and we think the officers acted appropriately in view of the medical emergency.
“The initial decision to handcuff Mr Liu was reasonable and necessary as it was not offensive, he clearly needed medical help and there was a risk of trying to leave him or stepping on a busy road.” He was handcuffed and given immediate medical attention.
“Although Mr Liu’s handcuffs may have been removed a short time ago, we believe the officers did their best in the difficult circumstances of a dynamic medical emergency.”
The IOPC did not find any grounds to justify any disciplinary action against the officers involved, but it was suggested that they participate in debriefing to consider any learning, e.g. About the treatment of seizures, and about the need for further training.
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