No charges in `baton' death case

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The Independent Online

Crime Correspondent

No police officers will be charged in the case of a man who died following a struggle with two officers equipped with American-style batons, it was announced last night.

Brian Douglas, 33, died in hospital five days after being arrested in Clapham, south London, last May. He suffered a fractured skull, but the cause of death has not been made public.

Mr Douglas's family claimed he died after being struck on the head with the baton, but the Crown Prosecution Service said yesterday that there was "insufficient evidence" to secure a successful prosecution after studying a report by the Police Complaints Authority.

His case has been highlighted by civil liberty and black rights groups, who have been demanding a public inquiry into deaths in custody.

The CPS said in a statement: "After careful consideration senior lawyers decided that there is insufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction as set out in our Code for Crown Prosecutions."

Mr Douglas, a music promoter, was arrested with another man in Clapham High Street, south London, for possession of a knife, a CS gas canister and cannabis. A struggle followed.

Mr Douglas, who was black, was taken to Vauxhall police station, south London, suffering from what police described as the effects of alcohol or drugs. He was checked every four hours by a police doctor who later the same day transferred him to nearby St Thomas' Hospital suffering from partial facial paralysis. He was transferred to intensive care after his condition deteriorated and he later died.

The Metropolitan Police officers involved were carrying the new straight, acrylic baton which is gradually replacing the force's traditional truncheon.