Police left Somalian man to die after 999 call

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The Independent Online

It began as a routine 999 call. At 2.36am, while outside the Dungeon nightclub standing beside the posters advertising happy hour vodka at 50p a shot, Ali Bullaleh told the emergency services he had been assaulted.

Seventy minutes later, the Somalian father-of-five lay dead, having been hit by a taxi in what looked like a tragic road accident.

But the incident is far from run of the mill. Somali leaders in Southampton, where Mr Bullaleh died last month, are calling it yet another injustice to hit their burgeoning community. Mr Bullaleh's family suspect the police and ambulance services are culpable.

Meanwhile, independent investigators are carrying out an unusual dual criminal and disciplinary inquiry into the actions of the police officers and ambulance crews that attended the 41-year-old.

The question is whether the police and ambulance services who responded to the 999 call allowed an injured man, who had reportedly collapsed several times in front of them, to wander off into the night.

What is not in doubt is that approximately 25 minutes after the emergency services left him, Mr Bullaleh travelled less than 200 yards and collapsed in the road where he lay until he was hit and killed by a taxi.

The death in the early hours of Sunday 12 November has caused outrage among leaders of the 1,000-strong Somalian community in Southampton.

In the five years since Somalis started settling in the south coast port, the Muslim community has kept a low profile, but a statement by the trustees of the Southampton Somali Community Association expressed their obvious anger: "The Somali community of Southampton are outraged at what they see as the latest of a long line of injustices against them.

"There are serious concerns that the original phone call to the police, in this incident, was not dealt with as it should have been and that the consequence of that is that Mr Bullaleh lost his life.

"We have consistently said that the failure of the criminal justice system would result in a Somali fatality - and unfortunately this has come to pass."

Mr Bullaleh moved to Britain about 17 years ago just before the mass migration of his countrymen, who were fleeing the 1991 civil war in Somalia.

At first he joined family members in London before moving to Leicester. Three years ago, he moved to Southampton, where he worked in manufacturing.

His friends and family described him as a well liked and respected member of the Somali community.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission is investigating his death, using new powers to look for criminal as well as disciplinary offences.

On the night of his death, Mr Bullaleh broke his religion's ban on alcohol and visited several nightclubs.

At 2.30am he was involved in an "altercation" with a man outside the Dungeon. Mr Bullaleh rang 999 at 2.36am and asked for help from both the ambulance service and the police, telling the operator that he had been punched.

When help arrived at about 2.50am, Mr Bullaleh appeared unconscious on the ground, according to some reports. His family said that Hampshire police had told them that Mr Bullaleh fainted two or three times while the emergency services were present, a claim that the police are unable to discuss during the IPCC investigation.

The ambulance left at about 3.15am, followed by the police officers at about 3.20am. Mr Bullaleh was left at the roadside. Shortly afterwards he started walking, spoke to two people and then collapsed in the road where two vehicles swerved around him. A third, a taxi, struck him at about 3.45am.

Jane Deighton, the family's solicitor, said: "The family have been told by the [Hampshire] police that Ali fainted two or three times in front of the ambulance and the police. If that is true it is horrific because at the very least it shows an utter disregard for his welfare."