Senior PC admits he could have done more in custody death of mentally ill black man








Kevin Clarke was taken to Lewisham hospital following the incident but later died (Picture: PA) A senior officer has admitted to a ‘failure of oversight’ after a mentally ill black man died in custody after being restrained by police.



PC Steven Speakman said there was a lack of communication between himself and other officers for a large part of the incident in which Kevin Clarke was handcuffed and then escorted to an ambulance by police.



Mr Clarke, 35, was taken to Lewisham hospital following the incident on March 9 2018, but later died.



PC Speakman added he was not adequately updated on the situation when he returned from making a phone call to the London Ambulance Service (LAS).



Leslie Thomas, representing the family of Mr Clarke, said PC Speakman, who was ‘the most senior officer at the scene’, had failed to respond to the incident as a ‘medical emergency’.



‘You are the one officer, you’ve got experience and you’re not in real-time in the physicality of what’s going on,’ he said.









A mural commemorating Kevin Clarke in Lewisham, south London (Picture: PA) Mr Clarke had spoken to police officers earlier that day who described him as ‘chilled’, but was later reported to have been seen jumping over garden fences.



Mr Thomas added that communication between the officers had been poor, and suggested that PC Speakman should have done more to monitor the situation.



He said: ‘Your colleagues were saying that this was a medical emergency from the off. A medical emergency is a serious matter.



‘If any officer formed the view that this was a medical emergency that would be communicated among the team, wouldn’t you expect?



PC Speakman replied: ‘For me the medical emergency was the mental health and restraint – that’s the point for me that it crystalised.



‘Perhaps I could have asked if there’d been any development but that wasn’t clear – the fact is that it wasn’t communicated to me.



‘On reflection, I perhaps should have.’



PC Cheryl Webber, who arrived on the scene later, replacing PC Speakman as the most senior officer and taking on a supervisory role, said she had been satisfied with officers’ conduct until that point.



Pc Webber said that the incident had not been a ‘failure’, but that lessons needed to be learnt from it.



The inquest at Southwark Coroner’s court continues.

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