Family pleas for ambulance ignored during arrest
Jake Michael, aged 25, died on 22nd August 2011 after being taken to Runcorn police station. Officers from Cheshire police were called to Lacey Street, Widnes, at around 5.15pm on Monday after reports of a “disturbance” at a house. Officers used pepper spray while restraining him during the arrest. Jake was then taken to the police station, where he became ill shortly after his arrival. He was taken to Warrington General Hospital by ambulance, where he was pronounced dead.
A spokesman for police watchdog, the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), which is investigating his death, said: “At about 5.15pm on Monday, two police officers attended an address in Lacey Street in Widnes in response to a call received. Following a call for assistance, further officers arrived and the 25-year-old man was arrested for alleged affray. “During the course of the arrest it is understood police deployed pepper spray.”
Jacob was beaten, restrained with pepper spray, handcuffed and held down by 11 officers, say neighbours.
Jake had called the police himself after arriving home in an agitated state and saying that he was being pursued by gunmen. This call was later confirmed by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).
Jake’s parents, Ann and Jake Michael happily invited the officers inside when they arrived, but said the mood became “threatening” when they asked her son to open his bedroom door. “He didn’t believe these were the police,” his father said.
Mrs Michael told reporters that one officer was “getting bored” with their son’s behaviour, and broke down the door and released pepper spray into his face. In a statement she said; “Straight away, pepper spray. And my lad says ‘please don’t, I’ll do anything, please don’t’,”
The parents went on to describe how their son was pinned against his wardrobe, waving his hands in the air in an attempt to fend off the noxious spray. They urged the officers three times to call for medical help.
Some witnesses said the struggle ended up in the street and police officers had hit Jake with batons after he was restrained with handcuffs. He was finally arrested 30 metres from the family home.
Tippa Naphtali, the cousin of Mikey Powell said; “When I came to know the circumstances of Jake’s case its first impact was how identical they were to headlines related to my cousin, Mikey Powell, who died in the custody of West Midlands police in September 2003. The more I read about Jake’s death the more I realised the striking similarity of events to those of Mikey’s.
“I am extremely saddened for the family and friends of Jake and outraged that such a sequence of events could be repeated almost blow for blow. Where are these lessons that police forces throughout the UK claim they take on after deaths in custody? Are we going to continue to allow this complacency?
“This has to stop. Family campaigners need to take matters into our hands in a manner more unprecedented than anything seen before. We need to adopt an intelligent and collaborative response working with a single vision and strategy.
“Our thoughts go out to this family and the others, both recent and previous, that have suffered this ultimate injustice”.
Commissioner Naseem Malik, who is overseeing the investigation, appealed to anyone with information to contact the IPCC.
“I am aware that people have made comments on social media sites and to journalists indicating they may have witnessed police detaining Jacob on Lacey Street,” she said. “I would ask those people to contact our investigators.” She also urged people to “remain calm and have patience”.
According to IPCC figures, 21 people have died during or following police custody in England and Wales between 1 April 2010 and 31 March 2011. Last year the organisation said that while 333 people died in English or Welsh custody over the preceding 11 years, no officer has been ever successfully prosecuted in connection with the deaths.
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