Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC - formerly IPCC)
IOPC findings from investigation into the death of Leroy Junior Medford
An investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) in to the circumstances surrounding the death of Leroy Junior Medford concluded in November 2017 that two Thames Valley Police (TVP) officers had a case to answer for misconduct.
Our investigation found that the officers, both police constables, were aware of concerns that Mr Medford had concealed drugs and should have been constantly monitoring him but were not, enabling him to remove the package and swallow it. During interviews with us the officers accounted for their lack of observation, one PC said he was ‘momentarily distracted’ while talking on the police radio, the other officer admitted he was reading an instructions manual for operating a drugs toilet when he should have been observing Mr Medford.
Both officers had a case to answer for misconduct for failing to complete constant visual supervision adequately, failing to physically supervise him in close proximity and affording Mr Medford the opportunity to retrieve a package from his anus and swallow it.
A misconduct meeting took place in September 2018 for one PC in which the case was proven against him for breaching the standards of professional behaviour in relation to duties and responsibilities and orders and instructions. The officer received a written warning.
The second officer retired prior to the misconduct proceedings.
IOPC Regional Director Sarah Green yesterday said:
“My thoughts are with Mr Medford’s family, friends and all those affected by his death.
“In this instance Thames Valley Police officers were aware that Mr Medford may have concealed a package and took him to hospital. However, upon his return to custody Mr Medford was presented with a small window of opportunity when he was not being constantly observed as he ought to have been and swallowed a package.
“Tragically Mr Medford’s death is another reminder of the risks of swallowing packages containing drugs and also for all those in custody suites that if the level of care and observation drops for a matter of minutes there can be profound consequences.
“Although the officers were conducting work duties when they were not observing Mr Medford as they should have been and therefore we found that the two officers who had responsibility for watching him had a case to answer for misconduct.
“Our investigation was rigorous and completed in 2017.”
Mr Medford was arrested at around 1.45pm on 1 April 2017 and taken to Loddon Valley Police Station, near Earley, Reading and placed in a cell.
Information provided to officers indicated that he may have been concealing drugs, officers then took him to the Royal Berkshire Hospital at around 4pm where he was seen by consultants and had a CT scan. The scan did not identify any abnormalities and Mr Medford returned to Loddon Valley Police Station just after 7pm.
Mr Medford was placed in a cell and two officers were tasked with constantly observing him. CCTV images show neither officer was present at 7.26pm when Mr Medford placed his hands down the back of his trousers, and removed something which he placed in his mouth and swallowed.
Shortly before 10pm, with his legal representatives present, officers moved Mr Medford to an interview room. His solicitor made representations that Mr Medford was too tired for interview and he was taken back to his cell.
A blanket was placed over Mr Medford and he was allowed to sleep.
Observations were made every 30-minutes using the spyhole in the cell door until 3.47am when a detention officer tried to rouse him. Three minutes later first aid was administered and shortly after 4am paramedics arrived and Mr Medford was taken to the Royal Berkshire Hospital. He was pronounced dead at 5.13am on 2 April 2017.
At his inquest on Wednesday, 27 June, a jury delivered a narrative conclusion adding that Mr Medford died of a heroin overdose.
Publication of our findings has awaited the end of his inquest. The IOPC investigation report into Leroy Junior Medford’s death can be found here.
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