courtesy of INQUEST
published: 6 September 2013
As the family of Michael mark the 10th anniversary of his death tomorrow, Saturday 7 September, West Midlands Police have issued a formal apology for the first time.
Mikey Powell was 38 years old when he died after being detained by West Midlands Police on 7 September 2003. He had three children. He had a mental health crisis and smashed a window at the home he shared with his mother. His mother called the police for help, assuming they would take him to hospital.
During the incident that followed, the police drove a car at Mikey as fast as they could, claiming they thought he had a gun, which he did not. Mikey was injured but survived the collision. He was then sprayed with four times the recommended amount of CS gas, hit with a baton and restrained for at least 16 minutes. No ambulance was called. Mikey was put on the floor of the police van and taken to the police station and into a ‘drunk cell’. It was only then officers noticed that he was not breathing.
The inquest jury found that Mikey died of positional asphyxia in the back of the police van while he was being taken to the police station.
Many issues were raised by the inquest into his death, including questions around possible assumptions made by police about Mikey, based on the area he was living in and the colour of his skin. The family made several recommendations following Mikey’s death, including training for officers to avoid these kinds of assumptions being made.
Tippa Naphtali, Mikey’s cousin and founder of the Mikey Powell Campaign said:
“This apology comes to us very late, 10 years on, however it remains important to us as a family that West Midlands Police (WMP) have extended this gesture. Over the 10 years since Mikey’s death we have influenced many major reforms and initiatives in relation to West Midlands policing as a direct result of the Rule 43 recommendations issued after the inquest in 2009”.