Number of deaths in West Midlands Police custody revealed

Nine people have died while in West Midlands Police custody in the last 20 years, new figures have revealed.

Of those deaths, seven were men and two were women according to Freedom of Information (FOI) requests lodged with West Midlands Police.

The deaths include Mikey Powell, 38, who tragically died in 2003 of asphyxiation while in custody after an arrest following a disturbance at his home in Lozells.

Read more: Heartbroken husband tells how pregnant wife died suddenly in bed

Meanwhile, Kingsley Burrell, 29, died in 2011 after being detained by police. His family have been fighting for justice ever since.

The FOI had asked for deaths in custody from 1990, but the force said its records did not go back that far.

But police records from 2000 onwards did show that there were two deaths in 2003, one in 2005, another a year later, one in 2010, one the next year and one in 2014.

A separate FOI request, asking for the number of deaths in police custody between 2015 and 2021, showed one in 2015-16 and another in 2017-18.

Of the nine deaths, four were described as white, two black, two Asian and one was “not recorded”.

Dad-of-three Mikey Powell, 38, was hit by a police vehicle, sprayed with CS gas, restrained on the ground – while suffering psychosis – and bundled into the back of a police van.

Around six minutes later, his body was placed on a mattress in a cell at Thornhill Road station in Handsworth where officers noticed he was not breathing.

Kingsley Burrell BLM collage

Another high-profile death in custody was that of Kingsley Burrell, 29.

An inquest in 2015 found he had been left handcuffed for hours in hospital and left face-down in a room with a blanket over his head.

The inquest also found restraint and failure to provide medical help contributed to Kingsley’s death.

The Freedom of Information request showed between 2006 and this year, ten officers have been subject of disciplinary investigation over deaths in custody.

Of those 10, two were dismissed and others received either a final written warning, or were given ‘management advice’ or had ‘no case to answer’.

Addressing the FOIs, a West Midlands Police spokesperson said: “Members of the public need to be reassured that individuals who have died in custody have had their case fully investigated and any wrong doing identified in a timely fashion.

“This information could go some way towards reassuring the public that the force is actively being open and transparent when such matters arise.”

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