The Met is aware of the conclusion of an inquest into the death of Edir Da Costa who died in Newham in June 2017.
On Thursday, 6 June, the jury returned a majority verdict of death by misadventure with a narrative. They said Mr Da Costa died from an upper airway obstruction caused by a plastic bag in his throat. There was a few minutes delay in a police call handler requesting an ambulance but this did not contribute to Mr Da Costa’s death and was down to human error.
There was no criticism of the officers who dealt with Mr Da Costa on the street.
The inquest heard Mr Da Costa had fled from police and was detained and brought to the ground. He had swallowed controlled drugs.
Following his death, an independent investigation was carried out by the Independent Office for Police Conduct.
Commander Dave Musker, Frontline Policing, said: “The death of anyone after involvement with police is of course a matter of regret and we welcome the range of independent processes that exist to provide full scrutiny of the facts. Our thoughts and sympathies remain with Mr Da Costa’s family and friends for their loss.
“The jury’s findings today are in accordance with the conclusions of the IOPC investigation; the officers who dealt with Mr Da Costa that day acted correctly in very difficult circumstances as part of their priority work to tackle violence and drug dealing in Newham and to protect the public. There were some points of learning identified by the IOPC that have been addressed.
“The inquest heard evidence that Mr Da Costa had chosen to swallow 88 wraps of controlled drugs wrapped in a plastic bag in the course of being stopped to avoid detection by police. This was not immediately apparent to the officers involved. It is clear that swallowing drugs is a lethally dangerous thing to do.”
The IOPC found no evidence of gross misconduct in relation to how those officers in Newham that day dealt with Mr Da Costa. They were justified in stopping him and his restraint was necessary and proportionate. The investigation also found discrimination played no part in how the officers stopped Mr Da Costa.
The IOPC recommended that three officers involved receive management action - one for a comment made at the scene and two for failing to call an ambulance promptly. One of those two officers should also receive management action over the level of detail provided about Mr Da Costa’s condition.
It was recommended that a fourth officer also receive management action for failing to call an ambulance promptly and attend an internal misconduct meeting in relation to the use of CS spray on Mr Da Costa.
All those recommendations have been accepted.
The Met’s policies and procedures relating to restraint techniques adhere to national College of Policing guidance and are constantly reviewed to incorporate learning and changes to best practice. Officers also undergo regular training on first aid and emergency life-saving treatment, again delivered in accordance with national guidelines.
The Met has also worked with the National Police Chief’s Council in reviewing the guidance for officers who stop suspects who place items such as drugs in their mouths. The updated guidance for officers has now been completed by the College of Policing and is being incorporated into Met officer safety training.
The Met awaits any further recommendations from the coroner.