Tameside man died after pulling bag of cocaine from his mouth in police custody

Picture courtesy of Greater Manchester Police

An investigation into the circumstances which lead to the death of man in police custody in Tameside back in April 2018 has cleared a police officers of misconduct.

The Independent Officer for Police Conduct began looking into the death of 34-year old Adam Harris, from Dukinfield, after he died in hospital shortly after he was found fitting and had stopped breathing at Ashton Police Station.

Mr Harris was arrested shortly after 1am on suspicion of assault. He was taken to Ashton Custody Suite where it was noted he could be under the influence of alcohol and was behaving erratically at times.

He was searched, seen by a nurse, and then taken to a cell. He was put under 30-minute observations but our evidence showed these were carried out more frequently.  Shortly after being detained Mr Harris produced a small bag from his mouth which he confirmed contained cocaine. An ambulance was called but before they arrived Mr Harris began fitting and stopped breathing. Officers provided CPR until paramedics arrived. Shortly before 5am he was taken to hospital where he died less than an hour later. 

Greater Manchester Police HQ 2, cropped

During the investigation we served a notice of misconduct to a custody sergeant, regarding his decision to detain Mr Harris and not send him directly to hospital. We concluded that his decisions were considered, and rationalised, and he did not have a case to answer for misconduct. The other officers who came into contact with Mr Harris were treated as witnesses throughout the investigation.

IOPC Regional Director Amanda Rowe: “Our thoughts remain with Mr Harris’ family and all those affected by this incident. The actions of all the officers involved have been analysed via the statements they provided to us, as well as body worn video footage and CCTV.

“We determined that the custody sergeant had to make a judgement call as to whether to detain Mr Harris. It could be argued that others may have taken the decision to send him directly to hospital but, we must consider this in context and, we are satisfied that the sergeant carefully considered his actions, and had no prior indication that Mr Harris had taken drugs.”


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