Restraint probably contributed to death of black man in Leicester, jury finds

·3-min read

A jury has found that restraint contributed to the death of a 29-year-old black man who was held down for 17 minutes in the street after an attempted robbery of a Leicestershire supermarket.

Shane Bryant, 29, a father of two young children, died due to global brain ischaemia, multiple organ failure, cardio-respiratory arrest and a period of physical restraint, a jury in Loughborough concluded.

Along with members of the public, one of the men restraining Bryant during the incident in July at a Co-op store in the town of Ashby-de-la-Zouch was an off-duty police officer known only as officer L, another was a retired police officer known as person 20.

The jury found that Bryant’s involvement in the incident and his resistance to being restrained contributed to his death. They found that much of the force used to detain him was reasonable but aspects were unreasonable and “more likely than not” contributed to his death.

They also found there were missed opportunities from the off-duty police officer in the management of the restraint that more likely than not contributed to Bryant’s death.

During the incident, Bryant was arrested, handcuffed, and arm and leg restraint straps were applied to him. Officer L applied his knee to Bryant’s back during the incident. When he was cautioned during the incident, Bryant did not reply. Paramedics began CPR before Bryant was taken to Queen’s medical centre in Nottingham, where he was pronounced dead two days later.

One unnamed witness told the inquest that while holding one of Bryant’s arms he became concerned Bryant was “struggling to breathe”.

HM assistant coroner for Rutland and North Leicestershire, Michael Auty QC, heard the three-week case, which opened on 4 October at Loughborough town hall.

Bryant’s brother, Dean Bryant, paid tribute to his sibling, who was a construction worker: “Shane was hilarious to be around. He was a fun, caring, protective person and had a smile that would light up a room.”

He said his brother, who had difficulties at school and was diagnosed with ADHD, left behind two much-loved children.

“We’ve learned from the inquest that there was a catalogue of wrongdoings in the course of the attempt to restrain Shane,” he said. “Then we’ve had the unfairness of the court process, where police officers have been able to hide behind screens and the footage that has been shown [to] the jury has been hidden behind screens as well.”

He called on Leicestershire police to reopen their criminal investigation into the actions of some members of the public involved.

“We are discussing with our lawyers bringing a civil claim against the police for their failings in relation to the restraint that killed Shane,” he said.

“Shane deserved to end up in prison for his role in an attempted crime that night. He did not deserve to end up in a coffin. We want justice for Shane and accountability for any failings that contributed to his death.”

Sarah Ricca of Deighton Pierce Glynn, the family’s solicitor along with Elliot White, said: “Shane’s family is very aware that black men disproportionately die at the hands of police during restraint. They want to shine a light on the continued dangers posed by police restraint and they want to know why lessons supposedly learned from previous restraint deaths are repeatedly forgotten by the police, individually and institutionally.”

Leicestershire police have been approached for comment.

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