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Last Updated: Wednesday, 10 September, 2003, 18:53 GMT 19:53 UK
Police custody death inquiry opens
Michael Powell
A family member made the call that led to Michael Powell's arrest
An independent inquiry has opened after a man died in police custody in Birmingham.

Michael Powell was arrested in Wilton Street, Lozells, in the early hours of Sunday outside his mother's house, but later died after collapsing at Thornhill Road police station in Handsworth.

At the time, West Midlands Police said they had been asked to investigate reports of a break-in, but the Police Complaints Authority (PCA) has said that officers were called by a member of Mr Powell's family who needed help because the 38-year-old was behaving oddly.

A witness reported seeing a violent struggle between Mr Powell and police officers before he was taken away.

Family appeal

A statement issued by the PCA on Wednesday, said: "There was no question him of trying to break into the house."

The independent inquiry, which is being conducted by Northamptonshire Police, will try to establish whether officers acted lawfully when they arrested Mr Powell.

It will also try to find out whether standard police procedure was followed.

The Powell family solicitor, Errol Robinson, said: "The family are desperate to know what happened.

"It's the only way they can get to the bottom of this and begin the grieving process.

"So I am appealing for anyone who's got any information, whether it's an eyewitness account, or whether they've heard something that might be useful to come forward with that information."

A second postmortem examination will be carried out next week after an initial report failed to establish how Mr Powell died.

A statement released by the force on Monday said Mr Powell had sustained cuts before he was detained.

BBC Midlands Today's Kevin Reide
"The investigation will try to ascertain whether officers acted lawfully."

Man dies in police custody
07 Sep 03  |  West Midlands

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