Before HM Area Coroner Delroy Henry
Coventry Crown Court
18 - 29 October 2021

An inquest into a concerning restraint related death of an Asian man in West Midlands police contact has concluded with the jury making no criticisms of those involved.

The jury at the inquest into the death of Abdul Hamid returned their conclusions on Friday (29 October 2021) finding that the death occurred following his interaction with members of the public and police officers. Despite the family’s submission that there was sufficient evidence for critical failures to be identified, the jury simply found that Abdul died due to the chain of events following a road traffic collision he was involved in. The medical cause of death was “consequences of cocaine toxicity and coronary artery atheroma in temporal association to restraint due to psychological and physiological stress”.

Abdul was a 26 year old Asian man from Birmingham. His family describe him as someone with a big heart and an infectious smile, who touched the lives of those around him with his kindness and positivity. He had a history of mental ill health and drug use. He was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, which was being managed with medication.

On 1 May 2020 at around 8am, Abdul was involved in a road traffic collision with several cars near the A45, Broad Lane junction in Coventry. The car that Abdul was driving was fully insured and taxed. Upon exiting his car, Abdul was reportedly seen trying to enter stationary cars before running through a hedge. It was at this point that Abdul was physically detained and restrained by one and then two more members of the public.

Mobile phone footage of part of the restraint taken by local residents was played to the jury. The jury heard evidence that three men restrained Abdul as he lay prone on the ground. One male was stood on Abdul’s ankles, the second male was alleged to be either laying across Abdul’s back or holding him in an arm lock whilst the third was alleged to be holding his right arm.

Two of the men who were involved in the restraint gave evidence at the inquest stating that Abdul was still moving at the time the first police officer arrived on the scene and intervened. The fact that Abdul was still alive at the time the police officer intervened was corroborated by other witnesses.

The first officer at the scene (‘Officer C’) was on his way to another matter when he saw the cars involved in the road traffic collision at the junction by Broad Lane. He attended the scene and was informed by members of the public that a man involved in the road traffic collision had been detained on Broad Lane. He made his way down to Broad Lane where he saw Abdul being detained by the members of the public at approximately 8:05am.

In his evidence, Officer C stated that he arrived on Broad Lane and saw several males gathered on a driveway. He observed Abdul on his front and a man who had Abdul restrained to the floor in an arm lock, another member of the public standing on Abdul’s feet and a third on Abdul’s right side.

When asked about his immediate response to the scene of the restraint, Officer C confirmed that he did not assess whether Abdul was conscious, nor did he ask the members of the public to get off Abdul. In answer to questions, he said his first thought was to restrain Abdul by using handcuffs.

Officer C intervened in the restraint by placing his knee on Abdul in order to “gain compliance”, despite telling the jury that he had not seen any movement or heard any sounds from Abdul upon his arrival. Officer C simultaneously applied handcuffs to Abdul.

It was suggested to Officer C during the course of his evidence, based on the footage, that he placed his knee on Abdul’s neck, as well as the area of his back and shoulder. Officer C denied this and claimed he only placed his knee on Abdul’s back and shoulder, which he suggested was an approved restraint technique in accordance with his training. The completed Record of Inquest is silent on these issues and they therefore remain publicly undetermined. 

Several members of the public including those who were involved in Abdul’s restraint were shown the mobile phone footage during the inquest. Many of them commented that they hadn’t observed at the time where Officer C’s knee was placed or how he restrained Abdul when he was applying handcuffs, primarily because of their position or because their focus was elsewhere at the time.

The members of the public who gave evidence said that Abdul was still moving whilst Officer C was applying handcuffs but that he suddenly became unresponsive, as soon as both handcuffs had been applied. Officer C also confirmed in answer to questions on behalf of Abdul’s family that he believed Abdul was alive at the time but pretending to be unconscious because this is what he had been told by members of the public and due to his own previous experiences of dealing with people who pretended to be unconscious to avoid being arrested.

Other witnesses also gave evidence at the inquest that Abdul suddenly became limp and “floppy” when the handcuffs were applied. One witness said that as soon as the second handcuff was applied, Abdul stopped moving, almost like the “flick of a switch”. When this happened, one witness said that Officer C lifted Abdul up slightly but then immediately lay him back down on the ground.

Officer C’s own body worn camera was only activated after the application of handcuffs. He stated in evidence that this was because he had not remembered to activate it, despite accepting that it was mandatory to activate it for uses of force, where practicable. Officer C accepted that Abdul was not responding but in answer to questions, said that he did not do anything about the lack of response as he believed Abdul was “faking it”.   

At approximately 8.09am, two uniformed police officers, PC Negus (now PS Negus) and PC Wynne, attended. PC Negus noted that, upon his arrival, Abdul was handcuffed in the prone position, not moving and not making any sound. PC Wynne said that Officer C upon her arrival told her that Abdul was faking unconsciousness and that he was resisting just moments earlier.

An ambulance was called at or around 8:12am. The officers eventually began to check for signs of responsiveness from Abdul but did not commence CPR until 8.13am, approximately 6 minutes after Abdul became unresponsive, according to the members of the public and based on evidence of timings as to when the handcuffs had been applied. Paramedics arrived at the scene shortly afterwards but Abdul was pronounced life extinct at 08:44.

A pathologist who examined Abdul and gave evidence at the inquest found that Abdul had advanced coronary artery disease. A toxicology report also found that Abdul had recently ingested cocaine prior to the incident, although it is unknown exactly when this was. The pathologist found that the combination of these two factors placed considerable strain upon Abdul’s heart. The effect of this was to make Abdul’s heart poorly capable of responding to stress. The pathologist was asked about whether restraint ought to be included in the cause of death, mindful of the other causes, but he maintained that restraint was an important part of the cause of death, given that it is sufficiently physiologically stressful.

Witnesses who gave evidence confirmed that CPR should be performed immediately once it is established a person is unconscious in order to give an individual the best possible chance of survival and that time is of the essence to save a person’s life when they become unresponsive. 

The Independent Office for Police Conduct have recommended gross misconduct proceedings be held in respect of Officer C’s conduct, both in relation to his use of force and in respect of his failure to assist Abdul or provide first aid.

Inquest conclusion
Despite the family’s submission that there was sufficient evidence for unlawful killing to be left to the jury, the coroner left only misadventure and drugs related death. The jury declined to return any short form conclusion of this kind, and instead found the following:

  • Abdul Hamid died due to cocaine toxicity and coronary artery atheroma combined with a highly agitated state whilst fleeing the road traffic collision which led to an interaction with members of the public and the police, heighting (sic) the occurrence of his death;
  • Abdul’s death was caused due to the chain of events following the road traffic collision;
  • The Coronary artery atheroma combined with cocaine created an adverse stress response physiologically and psychologically, leading to Abdul’s death.

Abdul's family said: “Whilst nothing will ever bring Abdul back, we have been able to obtain some answers. Our views as to the truth of what happened to Abdul have become clearer as a result of hearing all of the evidence at the inquest. We remain horrified that such a thing could ever be allowed to happen. It is important to us as a family, and indeed the wider public, that those who had a role to play in Abdul’s death are brought to justice.”

Jodie Anderson, Senior Caseworker at INQUEST, said:
The use of force in this instance is harrowing and unjustified, as is the idea of leaving an unresponsive man in handcuffs, face down on the floor, instead of rendering potentially life-saving first aid. We hear too often officers rely on the excuse that a person was “feigning unconsciousness”. If there is even a possibility that a person is unconscious, that ought to be treated as a medical emergency, in order to save lives. We hope that the upcoming misconduct proceedings relating to Officer C’s restraint and failure to provide first aid will ensure that the individuals and systems which contributed to Abdul’s death will be held to account.”

Sura Jawad, Solicitor at Saunders Law who represented the family, said: It is well known that all forms of restraint may be dangerous. This is why the ACPO Guidelines state the use of handcuffs are unlawful unless they can be justified. Abdul’s individual circumstances made him particularly vulnerable to the risks of restraint. This is a clear example of the ‘eggshell skull rule’ – it is no answer to claim an individual had a pre-existing weakness and it is unjustifiable for a police officer who has received training about the risks of restraint to place his knee on a man already restrained in a dangerous manner by three members of the public. The period after Abdul became unresponsive was potentially critical and so the delay in assessing his welfare and administering CPR due to a shared belief that he was “faking it” is even more concerning. It leaves serious questions about whether people can feel safe in the hands of police officers who are supposed to protect and preserve life”.


For further information, interview requests and to note your interest, please contact Lucy McKay at [email protected]

Abdul’s family are represented by INQUEST Lawyers Group members Sura Jawad of Saunders Solicitors and Una Morris of Garden Court Chambers. The family are supported by INQUEST caseworker Jodie Anderson.

Other Interested persons represented wee West Midlands police, West Midlands Ambulance Service, the Independent Office for Police Conduct and Officer C who was involved in the restraint