Police treatment of the mentally ill case study: Sean Rigg died after being restrained with 'unsuitable force'


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The Independent Online

Sean Rigg, a musician who died shortly after being arrested by police, had a 20-year history of mental illness.

Today a damning report concluded that mistakes by police in dealing with people suffering from mental illness could have contributed to dozens of deaths.

Mr Rigg was living in a hostel in south London in 2008 when staff raised the alarm because he started acting violently.

Three police officers finally arrived after a delay of more than two hours, handcuffing him and holding him down in a prone position for eight minutes.

He was put into a police van but had collapsed before he could be transferred to the cells at Brixton police station. Mr Rigg, who had been physically fit, was pronounced dead from a heart attack shortly afterwards.

An inquest jury last year ruled that officers had used “unsuitable” force to restrain him and found that the length of time he was in the prone position “more than minimally” contributed to his death.

It said Mr Rigg, who had paranoid schizophrenia, was struggling but not violent and police failed to spot his deteriorating state.

Two serving and one retired Metropolitan Police officer were arrested in March on suspicion of perverting the course of justice in connection with evidence to the inquest.

During the inquest officers were accused of lying to the jury to “cover up” their mistakes.