During the summer of 2011, 25-year-old Jacob Michael died after being restrained by 11 police officers outside his home. Just 45 minutes prior to his death he had dialled 999 saying he feared for his life.
Witnesses saw Michael being repeatedly hit with police batons, moments after two officers from Cheshire constabulary released pepper spray into his face, the BBC reported. CCTV footage showed officers holding Michael down on the floor. There was evidence that he had broken ribs and a torn liver.
An inquest into his death concluded that Michael died from cocaine-induced “excited delirium” – a controversial medical condition you probably haven’t heard of.
When someone is arrested and detained they are at an elevated risk to life-threatening levels of anxiety. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are at much higher risk than the rest of the population because of the distrust that has developed from generations of racism and marginalisation.
Deaths of detainees in police custody led to a royal commission that went from 1987 to 1991. Several recommendations from that inquiry called for immediate support to detainees through skilled advocates.