A BLACK British man with severe asthma died after police failed to take him to the hospital despite knowing an ambulance was delayed, an inquest has found.
Ian Taylor, 54, from Brixton, south west London, pleaded for help as he became very short of breath whilst under arrest on Coldharbour Lane in Brixton, on June 29, 2019.
Mr Taylor repeatedly told the all-white police officers he could not breathe and that he was going to die, but was left lying on the street without an inhaler, medical assistance or water – on one of the hottest days of the year, an inquest has heard.
A jury found that his death was caused by acute asthma and situational stress, alongside two underlying health conditions, with dehydration as a further contributing factor.
The inquest also found that he died in part because of the police’s assessment of the risks to Mr Taylor were not adequate.
An ambulance was called to the scene but was severely delayed due to the high levels of demand on that day.
The inquest heard the Met Police did not consider taking Mr Taylor to the hospital – which was two streets away, despite the police being allowed to drive detainees to hospital in exceptional circumstances, including where ambulances are severely delayed, and when it believed a person will die or seriously deteriorate if not taken to hospital immediately.
The officers did not believe Mr Taylor’s concerns and told him to “stop acting up” and to “grow up”.
One officer described Mr Taylor’s pleas for help as “all a load of nonsense”, the inquest heard.
The Coroner has announced he will be referring this officer to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) for further investigation of his conduct.
Body worn video footage shown at the inquest showed Mr Taylor lying on the floor, telling officers his airways were closing up and that he needed his inhaler.
The police did look for his inhaler, but were unable to find it.
The court heard, after 25 minutes on the ground, Mr Taylor was moved to a police car, where he was told to “stop acting up and grow up.”
After only a few minutes in the car, Mr Taylor went into cardiac arrest and stropped breathing.
The officers pulled him out of the car and began performing CPR, until paramedics arrived and took over, but Mr Taylor died in hospital later that evening.
Hayley Chapman, Solicitor at Hodge Jones & Allen, representing Mr Taylor’s family said: “Ian Taylor fell seriously ill less than a mile away from King’s College Hospital, yet even though he was in the back of a police care decisions were made that denied him the life-saving care he needed.
“This is yet another case the Met Police have under-estimated the calls for help from a Black man in serious medical difficulty, with a tragic outcome.”
The court heard that the London Ambulance Service (LAS) was extremely busy at the time of the incident due to the hot weather that day, with temperatures reaching a high of 34C.
This led to the service holding all calls except the most urgent, meaning an ambulance was not available to be dispatched to Mr Taylor when the police first requested one.
An ambulance was allocated to Mr Taylor, but it was later diverted to a more urgent call.
The LAS have acknowledged the police should have been informed an ambulance was no longer on its way.
Mr Taylors’s cousin, Michael Cooper, said: “Watching the video footage of Ian fighting for breath and desperately pleading for help, but being dismissed and even mocked by police officers, is utterly devastating.
“The police ate trained to deal with situations like this, yet they did not do what anyone else would have done and drive him to a hospital that was three minutes away. No one in the UK from asthma and yet Ian did. How many more deaths will it take before the police take seriously a Black man who says he can’t breathe?”
In his concluding remarks, the Coroner said that he was surprised the officers did not automatically think about to distance to the hospital when assessing whether to take Mr Taylor there in the car.
The inquest concluded on Thursday.
The Voice has contacted the Metropolitan Police for a statement.