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Last Updated: Thursday, 22 June 2006, 13:08 GMT 14:08 UK
Widow's payout after CS gas death
Eric Smith
Officers said they sprayed Mr Smith when he became violent
The widow of a man who died three days after police officers sprayed him in the face with CS gas has been awarded almost 18,000 in damages.

West Yorkshire Police used the spray at Eric Smith's home in Armley, Leeds, as they checked the bail conditions of his son, Dean, in November 1998.

The father-of-three died from a heart attack at home three days later.

The force, which denied responsibility, agreed to pay his widow Sandra 17,500 in an out-of-court settlement.

Mr Smith, 53, was suffering from a previously undiagnosed heart condition.

He was sprayed with the CS gas after getting into an argument with three officers in his kitchen.

'Family vindicated'

Mrs Smith's solicitor, Iftikhar Manzoor, said: "We always maintained that the use of CS spray was excessive.

"It made a significant contribution to Mr Smith's death. It was our case that it was used in excessive quantities, wasn't used to effect a lawful arrest and breached officers' CS training.

"His family are pleased it's all over. It's been eight years and a very lengthy investigation. We have been vindicated today.

"But we are very annoyed that the police took so long to come to this conclusion, causing further unnecessary anger and upset to the family."

Open verdict

An inquest at Wakefield Coroner's Court in February 2003 recorded an open verdict after the jury found the CS incident contributed, but was not wholly responsible for, Mr Smith's heart attack.

The settlement was made two days into a civil action at Leeds County Court.

A West Yorkshire Police spokeswoman confirmed a deal had been reached.

She added: "A full investigation was carried out under the supervision of the PCA (the Police Complaints Authority), which is now the IPCC (Independent Police Complaints Commission), following Mr Smith's death.

"A file was passed to the CPS (Crown Prosecution Service) and a decision was made that no further action would be taken against the officer."

Open verdict in 'CS Gas death'
31 Jan 03 |  England
Inquest told police used CS Gas
20 Jan 03 |  England

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