Gary Reynolds

Man was left severely disabled after police neglect

Compiled from various sources
published: 4WardEver UK – December 2010

Updates listed at the foot of this item

On 2nd March 2008 police arrested Gary Reynolds, aged 40, for drunk and disorderly behaviour. It is alleged that while handcuffed he resisted arrest, so was taken to the ground and restrained by several officers and a nightclub bouncer. At this point a thud or crack was heard. Two officers checked his head before he was transferred to a police station, but custody officers were not told of a possible head injury. And, despite guidance from the Home Office and IPCC the previous month, no attempts were made to rouse him; everyone assumed he was drunk and sleeping it off.

The police discovered he was in a coma at 11am and called an ambulance. He woke up after five weeks with a large chunk missing from the right side of his skull, removed by surgeons trying to stem bleeding. Surgeons later told his family that if he had been brought in one hour later they would not have been able to save him.

The official IPCC report in February 2010 stated;

On 2 March 2008, Gary Reynolds left The Rock public house at about 12.15am and was seen on Eastern Road, Brighton a short time later, between 12.30am and 1.50am, stopping passers by and motorists. At one point, he approached a police car, with three occupants to whom he spoke before the car moved off. At about 1.50am he got into a taxi outside Sussex Mansions, arriving by the same taxi in West Street, Brighton at 2.35am. The taxi driver beckoned over a Police Officer and asked for assistance.

Following a conversation between Gary Reynolds and the Police Officer, Gary Reynolds left the taxi and shortly after he was arrested for being drunk and disorderly. Gary Reynolds resisted arrest and he was restrained with handcuffs and Violent Person Restraint System (VIPER), put in a police van and taken to Brighton Police Custody Centre in Hollingbury. He was taken straight to a cell where he was sprayed with incapacitant spray and the restraints were removed.

One year later Gary was still in hospital. He is paralysed on his left side, can hold conversations only with intense concentration and has about a quarter of his skull missing. Gary and his family launched a quest to find out what happened early on that fateful morning.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) is investigated claims that Gary’s head had hit the pavement with a violent thud when he was arrested after a night out.

Gary’s brother Graeme, of Meadow Close, Southwick, said the family needs to know how Gary was injured and what happened in the hours before the alarm was raised.

In February 2010 following the publication of their report, IPCC Commissioner for the south east, Mike Franklin said: This is a tragic case which has had a massive impact on Gary’s life and that of his family. His injuries are life-changing and I recognise the determination of Gary and his brother for continuing to push for change.

”Our investigation has concluded that the actions taken by police officers did not amount to excessive force nor did any one individual officer abuse their authority, but that the combined actions and inactions of Custody Sergeants and the Custody Assistants, who are private contractors, contributed to a systematic failure to adequately look after Gary Reynolds whilst he was in their care.

Amongst other things the report went on to say;

– The decision to handcuff, take him to the ground and subsequently apply the VIPER appears to have been made justifiably and that, given the demeanour and behaviour of Gary Reynolds, holding him on the ground prior to transportation was a safer option than allowing him to remain standing.

– The decision to use incapacitant spray is a tactical one and is a decision that is down to the individual judgement of the officer at the time. The officer concerned has provided a rational explanation for the use of the spray (that he believed Gary Reynolds was attempting to bite officers) and nothing in policy or training prevents its use if a person is at the same time being restrained by other methods.

– The standard of care demonstrated by Reliance staff, who were private contractors working as custody assistants, and police custody officers was inadequate and their collective failure to realise something was wrong contributed to Gary Reynolds remaining in a coma longer than he should.

Further recommendations have been made following the conclusion of the independent investigation, which include refresher training for individual custody staff officers, as well as a review of the working practices of their custody centres and producing a dedicated policy to clearly identify lines of accountability and responsibility for all staff working in custody.

In a statement, a police representative said; “Sussex Police regrets that Gary Reynolds was not adequately cared for while he was in our custody on March 2 2008.

“We acknowledge the findings of the IPCC independent investigation which is critical of certain working practices within Brighton custody centre.

“As soon as we became aware of these we took action to rectify them. In addition, several staff were given advice in relation to the performance of their duties.”

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Follow-up News:

Cell coma man was ‘failed by police’ IPCC report finds
1st February 2010

Gary Reynolds calls for a public inquiry into systemic failings that almost killed him
31st January 2010

Man paralysed after arrest demands a full public inquiry
31st January 2010

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