Friday, February 26, 2016

Church caretaker 'died after he was arrested by seven police officers, bound in handcuffs, leg restraints and a face mask then left in a police cell'

Police worldwide are very bad at dealing with the mentally ill but there is no excuse for a total disregard of their health and welfare

This is the shocking moment a mentally-ill churchgoer was bound in handcuffs and leg restraints before being left motionless in a jail cell when police strapped a belt across his face, a court heard.

Schizophrenic Thomas Orchard was put in restraints and had an 'emergency response belt' put across his mouth after being arrested by seven police officers following a public order incident.

Shocking CCTV footage released today shows the 32-year-old being left motionless on the floor of a police cell at Heavitree Road Police Station in Exeter, Devon, after the arrest in October 2012.

Mr Orchard, a schizophrenic, suffered a cardiac arrest 12 minutes after being left by police officers and died a week later in hospital from brain damage and asphyxia, the court heard.

Experienced custody sergeant Jan Kingshott, 44, and civilian detention officers Simon Tansley, 38, and Michael Marsden, 55, are now on trial accused of unlawful act manslaughter.

The trio, from Devon and Cornwall Police, also face accusations of gross negligence manslaughter. They all deny the charges.

Dramatic CCTV footage of Mr Orchard's treatment in police custody was shown to the jury when the case was opened in court last month, but only released today following a challenge by the press.

A series of videos show the moments Mr Orchard was arrested in Exeter city centre over a public order incident, marched from the van into the station in restraints, and carried around the station.

One harrowing piece of footage shows him being carried face-down in the 'emergency response belt', before being dropped and left motionless on the floor of his cell.

The final video shows him surrounded by officers and police staff who are holding him face down on the floor, before they finally remove the 'emergency response belt' and leave his police cell.

The belt was put across his mouth and nose for five minutes while he was in a prone position, interfering with his breathing, a jury at Bristol Crown Court was told.

Opening the case, prosecuting, Mark Heywood QC said: 'The damage that caused his death had occurred following his arrest by police on suspicion of a public order offence in central Exeter.

'At the roadside he was dealt with by a total of seven police and support officers. 'He was taken from there on that day, in physical restraints, to the local custody unit.

'There he was dealt with by a total of six trained police officers and detention unit staff, again while in physical restraints throughout.

'In fact, Mr Orchard was ill and suffering from a relapse of his mental illness, of long-standing paranoid schizophrenia.

'Even so, the combination of force and physical restraints used on him on the day of his arrest, coupled, says the prosecution, with a complete failure to enquire and so to realise his true condition and also to observe him closely and directly, led together to him being starved of oxygen to the point of cardio-respiratory arrest.

'He died because force was used to restrain him, mostly in a prone, face down, position, and in addition a large webbing belt was put across his face in the course of those events.

'Together - you may think obviously - these things interfered with his ability to breathe. 'The situation continued for over five minutes. Deep within a police station, while he was bound.

'At the same time, no one of those directly responsible took sufficient care to see that he was breathing properly - or even perhaps at all towards the end of those events.

'Instead, he was left in a locked cell, under more remote observation for a further twelve minutes until his true condition was discovered. 'By then, it was too late.'

He added: 'The three defendants in your charge are those directly responsible for his detention at the police custody unit, for implementing and directing the use of force that I last described at the police station, and for the application of the webbing belt about his head at the same time. 'The Crown says that by those actions unlawfully caused his death.

'Each of them denies that what he individually did, or did together, was unlawful and that any unlawful action of his resulted in Mr Orchard's death.'

Bristol Crown Court heard 'placid and quiet' Mr Orchard had suffered with mental health issues since his teenage years. He was admitted for mental health care in hospital five times between 2004 and 2009, and at the time of his death was living in supported housing in Exeter.

On the day of his arrest on October 3, his health had deteriorated, and after going to church for communion he attacked a man in the city centre. After 999 calls were made, seven officers - none of them on trial - were involved in his arrest for allegedly using threatening words or behaviour, the jury heard.

Witnesses said he was attempting to bite the officers, and the jury saw CCTV of him being forced to the ground, put in restraints, and carried to a van.

Mr Heywood QC added: 'Four [officers] are involved. 'He was picked up and carried in that way but one of them stood at his head and held it in both his hands in what is the classic preferred trained for movement of someone of this kind.

'It makes a lot of sense. It is simple and usually used, and above all trained as a technique. The question arises why it was not used later.'

Mr Orchard arrived at Heavitree Road Police Station at around 11.18am, where 'experienced' custody sergeant Kingshott was in charge. Mr Heywood said Mr Orchard remained in restraints for a total of 22 minutes.

He added: 'For a significant part of the restraint time at the custody unit he also had a webbing belt, known by its full names as an Emergency Response Belt applied over the whole of or part of his face, including at times - perhaps the majority of that - on his nose and mouth.

'Once released from restraint in the cell he made little or no movement. When the cell was entered 12 minutes later, he was in cardiac arrest.

'Although cardiac function and respiratory effort were restored by advanced intervention, he died in hospital on Wednesday 10th October 2012.

'The cause of death was given as severe hypoxic-ischaemic brain damage, prolonged cardiorespiratory arrest following a violent struggle and period of physical restraint including a prolonged period in a prone position and the application of an Emergency Response Belt across the face resulting in asphyxia.'

Original report here

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