Page last updated at 20:28 GMT, Friday, 18 December 2009

Custody death man had suffocated

Michael Powell
Michael Powell's family was pleased with the verdict

A man died after suffocating while being transported in a West Midlands police van, an inquest jury has ruled.

Michael Powell, 38, died at Thornhill Road police station after his arrest in Lozells, Birmingham in 2003.

Police officers had been called to his mother's home after a disturbance and a police car had been driven at him.

Ten West Midlands police officers were cleared of charges relating to his death in 2006. The force has said crucial lessons had been learnt.

Mr Powell, a father of three, had been suffering from mental health problems when police were contacted by his family concerned about his behaviour.

'Official now'

During the incident he was detained outside his mother's home, a police car was driven at him as police believed he was armed and CS spray and a baton was also used to restrain him.

Following the hearing, his cousin, poet Benjamin Zephaniah, said the family had always known how and where he died.

"This helps us because it is official now," he said.

"We are going to seek legal advice and see where we go in the future.

"But now the world knows that Michael died in a police van and was in police custody."

West Midlands Police said it would never lose sight of the fact Mr Powell died in its care.

"Crucial lessons have been learned from this tragic case which will go a long way to ensuring safeguards are in place to prevent a repeat," a statement said.

"Michael's death has led to a rigorous and far-reaching of the way we carry out our duties."

It added the Independent Police Complaints Commission had made 18 recommendations surrounding training and management and significant work had been undertaken in respect of these.

The inquest into Mr Powell's death began early in November.



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