Findings from investigation following the death of Adrian McDonald

29 Nov 2018 03:19 PM

Use of force by Staffordshire Police against Adrian McDonald prior to his death was reasonable but officers did not treat him as a medical emergency when he complained he could not breathe, our investigation concluded.

Mr McDonald, who was 34, died after he was arrested by police at a flat in Newcastle-under-Lyme in the early hours of 22 December 2014. Officers encountered Mr McDonald barricaded upstairs in the property where he had attended a party. The IOPC investigation found that police were concerned he was a possible risk to himself as well as others, and that officers did initially attempt calm, verbal communication. Subsequent actions to control Mr McDonald, including use of a Taser and deployment of a police dog, were considered proportionate and in accordance with policy.  

A disciplinary hearing arranged by the force, and held before an independent Chair in September last year (2017), concerned the alleged delay in seeking medical help after Mr McDonald was placed in a police van. Three officers were ultimately cleared, two of them after a successful appeal. 

At an inquest in Hanley which ended recently (28 November) the jury returned a narrative conclusion which gave the cause of death as the effects of cocaine and stress of the incident. The jury said that misinformation given to police when they were called affected their decisions and the level of force used, which was “a significant factor” in the stress caused to Mr McDonald.

Following our investigation, Staffordshire Police agreed to consider incorporating into training potential learning points including the recognition of medical emergencies.

IOPC Regional Director Derrick Campbell yesterday said:

“I extend my condolences to the family of Adrian McDonald and everyone affected by his death. Our investigation highlighted the importance of training in the recognition of medical emergencies when people in police custody are taken ill.”

Our investigation ran from December 2014 until August 2016 when our report was finalised. In September 2016 we sent a file to the Crown Prosecution Service which decided early last year (2017) that there was insufficient evidence to bring charges against any of the officers. Issuing the IOPC findings has awaited the conclusion of the inquest.