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Last Updated: Friday, 3 October, 2003, 20:01 GMT 21:01 UK
Funeral of custody death victim
Michael Powell's funeral cortege on the way to church
The mourners were told Mr Powell did nothing to deserve his death
Hundreds of people gathered for the funeral of a man who died in police custody after being struck by a patrol car.

Michael Powell, 38, was arrested during a struggle in Lozells, Birmingham on 7 September and died hours later after collapsing at Thornhill Road police station in Handsworth.

The officers who detained the father-of-three had been called by his mother, who was concerned her son was having a breakdown.

The vicar at the Holy Trinity Church in Aston told the mourners Mr Powell had done nothing to deserve such a sudden and violent death.

Community angered

Reverend Daniel Bowen asked the congregation: "I wonder if the uniformed centurions who held Jesus Christ captive, who beat him, abused him, spat at him - if they had been called to account for their actions, I wonder if any them would have the courage to speak out, to tell the truth?"

The funeral procession had earlier made its way to the church from Mr Powell's mother's home, which was the scene of his arrest.

Michael Powell
Michael Powell had never been in trouble with the police
Before Friday's service, Mr Powell's partner, Marcia Williams, told BBC Midlands Today that he would be sorely missed.

"I think he touched a lot of people because of the anger that people are feeling," she said.

"They're saying: 'Let's put him to rest, give him a good send-off, because that is the kind of bloke he was.'

"I mean there's not many words you can say because he was just so loving."

Mr Powell's eldest son, 13-year-old Rio Williams-Powell, said of his father: "He was like a friend instead of a dad. He was kind, you could trust him. He would never break a promise."

An independent inquiry being held by Northamptonshire Police is investigating whether the officers who arrested Mr Powell acted lawfully.

BBC Midlands Today's Peter Wilson
"This was a community, not just a family in mourning."

Campaign group help family
19 Sep 03  |  West Midlands
Police custody death inquiry opens
10 Sep 03  |  West Midlands
Man dies in police custody
07 Sep 03  |  West Midlands

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