11 December 2019

Before HM Senior Coroner Andre Rebello
Liverpool Coroner’s Court, Gerard Majella Courthouse
18 November – 11 December 2019
The inquest into the death of Mzee Shemar Mohammed-Daley has today concluded, with the jury finding that he died of ‘natural causes’ from cardio respiratory arrest and acute psychotic episode. They also returned a narrative conclusion that was uncritical of everyone involved.
Mzee was 18 years old when he was restrained and arrested by security staff and Merseyside police at Liverpool One shopping complex on 13 July 2016. After arriving in critical condition, he was pronounced dead at Royal Liverpool Hospital at 7.53pm the same evening. Mzee, a black man from Liverpool, was described by his family as a very caring young man who adored his family. He was popular growing up with his friends and was the life and soul of the party, with eyes and smile could light up a room.
The inquest heard that Mzee was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and attention deficit hyper-activity disorder (ADHD). In August 2014, Mzee was attacked by five white males and sustained 14 stab wounds, following which he was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). His sister told the inquest that this stabbing incident had a dramatic effect on Mzee and caused his paranoia.
Evidence was heard from his father, Clement Daley, that Mzee often felt harassed by the local police, who would honk their horns at him and turn up at his house. On 13 July 2016, Mzee visited his father. He appeared confused and told his father that someone was trying to kill him. He said, “Trust me dad, trust me, the police are after me and the white boys”.
That day Mzee’s mother, Karla, contacted the local Mental Health Crisis Team and Merseyside Police to raise concerns that her son was acting in a paranoid manner and had not taken his medication. Mzee left his father’s address and was next seen in the vicinity of Liverpool One shopping complex where witnesses described him as being sweaty, paranoid and agitated. The inquest heard that his behaviour appeared erratic and he was seen holding a knife, but he did not appear aggressive or threatening.
Mzee’s movements, at times sprinting around the shopping centre, were monitored on CCTV by the Liverpool One security control room, who reported matters to Merseyside Police. Mzee last entered ‘Chips a GoGo’, a fast food restaurant. CCTV footage played to the inquest showed him staggering over to the counter which he climbs, before exiting the sight of the CCTV. He was followed in by security personnel. One witness gave evidence that there was shouting and raised voices from inside the kiosk. Mzee was then held on the floor by security personnel in the confined area.

When the police officers arrived, they handcuffed Mzee’s hands behind his back while he lay on his front. The inquest heard that Mzee had already been checked by security officers who found that he no longer had a knife. However, this was not communicated to the police or other staff members in the kiosk. Mzee was carried out into the street and appeared ‘completely motionless’, one witness said. He was placed into what was described as an 'improvised recovery position' with his hands still handcuffed behind his back. 

Witnesses told the inquest that the police did not attempt any first aid. One witness said the police did ‘not look that serious or concerned’ and were instead talking to one another. The North West Ambulance service was called at 6.37pm and Mzee was later pronounced dead at 7.53pm at the hospital.
Mzee’s family will not be making a comment at this time.
Kelly Darlington of Farley’s solicitors said: “The family do not feel that the conclusion of natural causes fully reflects what Mzee went through in the moments leading up to his death. That uncertainty was reflected in the fine distinctions within the pathology evidence some of which considered restraint to have been causative, whilst some did not. In those circumstances, the jury’s task is understandably difficult. Acute Behavioural Disorders in general are extremely complex and often the experts understanding does not provide any clear answers in this area.”
Selen Cavcav, Senior Caseworker at INQUEST said: "It is difficult to reconcile the outcome of this inquest with the harrowing footage of Mzee lying unconscious on the floor, hands cuffed behind his back as police and security staff watched on.

There is nothing 'natural' about this death. There were clear opportunities to exercise compassion and give urgent medical attention, which were missed.
Alongside a crisis in care for people with autism and mental ill health, Mzee’s death occurred in the context of a systemic pattern of a disproportionate number of deaths involving police use of force against young black men. This process has not delivered the accountability that this family and the public need.”

For further information, interview requests and to note your interest, please contact INQUEST Communications Team: 020 7263 1111 or; [email protected] [email protected]

The family is represented by INQUEST Lawyers Group members Kelly Darlington and David Corrigan of Farleys Solicitors LLP and Paul Clark of Garden Court Chambers. INQUEST caseworker Selen Cavcav has been working alongside the family.

The other interested persons represented at the inquest are:

  1. Liverpool One Customer Service Advisors
  2. Merseyside Police
  3. North West Ambulance Service

In October 2017 the landmark Independent review of deaths and serious incidents in police custody by Dame Elish Angiolini QC was published. Commissioned by Theresa May when she was home secretary, the reviews recommendations included tackling discrimination, through recognition of the disproportionate number of deaths of people from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic groups following restraint and the role of institutional racism, both within IPCC (now the IOPC) investigations and police training.

In December 2018, the Home Office published the first national statistics on police use of force (April 2017-March 2018). Black people were overrepresented, as subject in 12% of incidents but representing only 3.3% of the general population. See INQUEST media release for more information.