A police officer who told a jury that he could not recall standing over the "lifeless" body of a mentally ill man was captured on CCTV saying, 'I hope he hasn't got anything, I've got his blood on me'.
The inquest into the death of Sean Rigg was shown footage of PC Richard Glasson walking past his body on the floor of Brixton police station in August 2008.
PC Glasson is then alleged to have said: ‘Oh Christ, he’s faking it’ to a colleague while Mr Rigg lay on the floor, unconscious, without medical attention.
PC Glasson was one of three officers involved in physically restraining Mr Rigg on the street for several minutes, and was last week accused of lying about how long and how much force he had used during the restraint.
He insisted that he could not remember any injury to Mr Rigg or any conversation he had about the 40-year-old man who died in police custody.
The jury at Southwark Crown Court questioned the constable for several hours, and at times appeared to lose patience with his poor recall.
One juror asked: “If you knew there would be an IPCC [Independent Police Complaints Commission] investigation and that you would have to remember what happened, and you were surprised at being told not to write anything down [by the Police Federation], why did you not make notes yourself?”
He answered: “We were expecting to be called for an interview under caution within five days... we were under the advice not to make notes.”
PC Glasson made his first statement about Mr Rigg six months after his death.
Another juror asked why Mr Rigg’s handcuffs were not removed at the police station when he was calm, unresponsive, and police apparently suspected that his bizarre behaviour could have been related to mental health issues. “I don’t know why,” he replied.
The inquest then heard from PC Matthew Forward, the first officer to come into contact with Mr Rigg on the night he died. He described how Mr Rigg had assaulted him, which included hitting over the head twice, before he was brought under control with the help of his colleagues.
The officer, who was only six months into his probationary period at the time, said: “I was shocked...I was very scared at the time, I’d never had anything happen to me like that and I wanted my colleagues to come and assist me.”
PC Forward told the jury that the face-down restraint only lasted a matter of seconds. The court has previously been shown digital photographs taken by a witness which indicate the restraint lasted for at least four minutes.
PC Forward appeared to contradict the evidence given earlier by his colleague when he told the jury how he’d read information about the ‘suspect’ from the control room on the police van’s mobile-computer. PC Glasson has repeatedly said that the computer was not working that night.
Mr Rigg was arrested for assaulting a police officer and suspected theft of a passport – which was actually his own.
Both officers have denied being aware of Mr Rigg’s identity at the time of his arrest. The court has heard evidence from other witnesses about five 999 calls who told operators Mr Rigg’s name and date of birth, and about his long history of contact with police during acute psychotic breakdowns.
The inquest continues.
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- Independent Police Complaints Commission
- Southwark Crown Court