Double tragedy of police custody death
Compiled from various sources
published: 4WardEver UK – December 2011
Updates on this case will be listed at the foot of this item
Osman Cameron The brother of remand prisoner, Alton Manning, who died following a violent struggle with prison officers nearly ten years previously, also died after being taken into police custody. Osman, aged 45, was found dead in his hospital room on 24th January 2005.
He had been arrested on January 4 outside his home on suspicion of robbery, and taken to the Belgravia police station in Birmingham, where he spent two nights. According to West Midlands police, he was assessed by doctors and social workers and a decision was made to section him under the Mental Health Act.
He was transferred to the hospital on January 6. He died 18 days later, three days before he was due to be released. Officers took him to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham two days after his arrest in relation to alleged mental-health issues”. His brother died at Blakenhurst Prison, near Redditch, Worcestershire, in December 1995.
An inquest jury in Kidderminster in 1998 ruled the 33-year-old, also from Sparkbrook, was unlawfully killed after hearing he died of restraint asphyxia during a strip-search. The ruling led to seven warders being suspended and a legal challenge by Mr Manning’s family, whose lawyers argued at the High Court in 2000 that there was clear evidence of unreasonable restraint”. But the Crown Prosecution ruled in 2001 there was insufficient evidence for a prosecution.
Mr Cameron’s sister, Patricia Manning, said; Rest assured, the family are deeply hurt and very, very angry that lightning has struck twice.
Activist and family friend Maxie Hayles, who was chairman of the Justice for Alton Manning Campaign Group, said Mr Cameron had suffered convulsions in the past, but was otherwise healthy. He was sectioned recently by the police because was acting inappropriately, whatever that may mean.”
He added; it is unfortunate that he is the brother of Alton Manning, who we fought so vigorously for over the years and secured an unlawful killing verdict.”
Shortly after Cameron’s death reports stated that; ‘it is too early to say with any certainty how Osman died, but the preliminary results of a post-mortem appear to suggest asphyxia, possibly as a result of an epileptic fit.
It’s a terrible tragedy for the family, who argue that Osman was a vulnerable man who suffered from autism and epilepsy and who should never have been in a psychiatric hospital. But for Patricia and her sister Elizabeth Melbourne, Osman’s death is a doubly cruel blow. Just over nine years ago, on December 8 1995, their other brother, Alton Manning, also died in the care of the state, this time in Blakehurst prison in Worcestershire. (Despite their surnames, the two were full brothers.)
Alan Bicknell of the National Autistic Society said: “It is not unusual for autists to attract the attention of the police. We see that situation only too often,” he says. “The police want a person who has been stopped to show them respect. But someone with autism will avoid eye contact and appear unconcerned. There is no obvious physical disability, so it won’t necessarily be obvious to an officer that anything is wrong.”
But his sister Patricia believes there was another dimension to the attention Osman attracted, which began after he left school. “It was the 70s, he was black,” she says. “He had a lot of problems with the police. Sometimes they’d arrest him, sometimes they put him in a psychiatric hospital, sometimes they wouldn’t even arrest him, they would just bring him home.
“I’m not saying all of them were bad. There was one that used to come to the house and speak to my mum because he was really concerned about Ossie.” It was not until three years ago, after her parents had died and his care fell to her and her sister, that Ossie was diagnosed as autistic.”
She struggles to explain how it feels to lose two brothers in custody. “People say lightning doesn’t strike twice, but look at what has happened to my family.
This time was definitely the worst. I couldn’t even leave the house. And then having to explain it to the children. I suppose it brought back my feelings about Alton. To lose another family member in those circumstances, it’s even harder. It tears families apart.
“I just want people to discard the stereotypes and know that he is a person. He had nieces and nephews, he loved life, and he had a right to life. Ossie was a very loving man who will be missed. Who will be missed terribly.”
A family destroyed
9th February 2005
Two brothers die suddenly, in separate incidents, in the care of the state. What does such an appalling double tragedy do to those left behind? Laura Smith meets a bereaved sister looking for answers.
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