Stoke & Staffordshire

Adrian McDonald: Police custody death 'due to drugs'

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Media captionPolice bodycam footage shows the moments before and after officers Tasered Adrian McDonald

A man who died in police custody after being Tasered was killed by cocaine toxicity and the stress of the incident, an inquest has found.

Adrian McDonald, 34, died in Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire, in 2014 after complaining to police of breathing difficulties.

In April, two officers previously found guilty of misconduct were cleared of all charges by a tribunal.

An inquest jury returned a narrative verdict on Wednesday.

Footage from a police body-worn camera was played during the hearing, showing officers trying to gain access to a "barricaded" room at a property in Audley Road, on 22 December 2014.

Mr McDonald told police he had taken drugs and appeared to be breathing heavily as officers asked him to "calm down", the jury heard.

'I can't breathe'

A Taser was discharged and Mr McDonald, originally from Huddersfield, was also bitten by a police dog.

He was taken to a police van and then became unresponsive. He died at the scene after suffering a cardiac arrest.

The inquest was told Mr McDonald had shouted "I can't breathe" from the back of the police van minutes before he lost consciousness.

Responding to the inquest verdict, Gareth Morgan, Ch Con of Staffordshire Police, said the investigation and inquest had had a major impact on both Mr McDonald's family and the officers involved.

He said the officers "did not have a true picture of the incident they were attending" and despite the use of force had also "made attempts to calm and reassure" Mr McDonald.

"As a police service we have already changed procedures and guidelines as a result of this tragedy," he said.

Mr McDonald's brother Wayne told BBC News that he was disappointed with the conclusion, given what his brother went through.

Stoke-on-Trent and North Staffordshire coroner Ian Stewart Smith offered his condolences to the family and praised the way they conducted themselves throughout the hearing.

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