Force used by police in death of black man ‘was justified’, jury rules

Andrew Hall’s partner thinks things might have been different if he had been white (Picture: PA)

The force used by police officers in a violent struggle with a black man who later died was ‘justified, necessary and proportionate’, an inquest jury has found.

The violent incident in Huddersfield Police Station ended with father-of-three Andrew Hall dead in Huddersfield Royal Infirmary, where he died after a cardiac arrest,

A 10-week-long hearing in Bradford was shown CCTV footage of Mr Hall struggling with police and detention officers, who delivered a number of blows as they tried to restrain him, after he was taken to the station from hospital in September 2016.

The 43-year-old joiner was eventually restrained and returned to the hospital, where he screamed ‘they’re killing me’ before he died. His partner suggested the verdict and his death may have been different if he was white.

On Tuesday, a jury of five men and five women was asked ‘Was the use of force by the police officers and detention officers justified, necessary and proportionate?’ in relation to 13 different points during the ‘altercation’ in the police station, as well as during and after his return to hospital.

The jury spokesman answered a unanimous ‘Yes’ to all 13 questions except one – relating to when the officers were attempting to make Mr Hall let go of a metal bar in a corridor – which he said was ‘Yes’ on an 8-2 majority.

Mr Allen’s partner, Natalie Dyer, was visibly upset and left the inquest in the Alhambra Theatre halfway through the jury spokesman’s responses.

Hall screamed ‘they’re killing me’ before he died (Picture: PA)

He was found to have had a heart condition (Picture: PA)

Speaking to Channel 4 News, she said: ‘For them to treat him like this, and for the outcome to be what it was, I’m actually disgraced (sic) with what happened and it’s unforgivable.’

Ms Dyer said: ‘Instead of treatment and help, he got restrained.’

Asked if she thinks it would have been different if Mr Hall had been white, Ms Dyer said: ‘Yes. I believed it. I believe he was judged on that. I really do.’

She said: ‘All they see is a black man, as they’ve done in court, they’ve mentioned his size.

‘They tried to make him out to be a big black man, that they’re all scared of. He was just a regular guy, he was a family man.’

An inquest jury found the use of force by officers was ‘justified, necessary and proportionate’ (Picture: PA)

Mr Hall, from Dalton, Huddersfield, was originally taken to the hospital after taking a large amount of alcohol and prescribed drugs, the inquest heard.

But he was arrested and taken to the police station after slapping a nurse.

Assistant coroner Oliver Longstaff told the jury at the opening of the inquest that Mr Hall was initially co-operative in the cells but, after a nurse began assessing his condition, a ‘violent struggle’ ensued, with a number of officers attempting to restrain him.

The entire incident was captured on CCTV, which showed up to six officers struggling with Mr Hall, delivering punches and knee strikes.

Mr Longstaff told the jury at the start of the inquest: ‘Without doubt, the struggle can be described neutrally as violent.’

Hall was repeatedly struck by a number of officers (Picture: PA)

Mr Hall was eventually double-handcuffed and put in leg restraints before being taken back to Huddersfield Royal Infirmary, where he was examined lying face down on a trolley, restrained by several police.

The coroner told the jury: ‘Andrew was still struggling. At this point Andrew was seen to be sweating profusely, spitting and screaming for help, shouting “They’re killing me”.’

Mr Hall went into cardiac arrest after he was sedated, and could not be resuscitated.

It was later found that he had an undiagnosed severe heart condition.

The coroner said doctors noted that Mr Hall had ‘apparent injuries’ and were concerned about possible brain injuries.

He added that witnesses said he was ‘so distressed and disorientated he did not appear to understand what was being said to him’.

On Tuesday, the jury found that Mr Hall died from a complex series of causes which included his heart disease, drug intoxication and ‘exertion against subsequent restraint’.

As part of its narrative conclusion, the jury found that Mr Hall ‘became more agitated’ after he was taken into police custody.

It said: ‘When being escorted back to his cell he has ended up in an altercation with officers which has resulted in him having to be restrained by multiple officers.’

The officers involved gave evidence to the inquest anonymously.

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