Police account of death fall challenged

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The Independent Online
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THE RELATIVES of a man who plummeted to his death from a Liverpool tower block after being arrested, called yesterday on the Police Complaints Authority to investigate conflicting accounts given by Merseyside police officers, writes Jonathan Foster.

Kevin Byrne, 23, died on Thursday of multiple injuries at the foot of Regal Towers, Croxteth, about 30 minutes after calling at an eighth-floor flat police were searching for drugs.

Mr Byrne's family yesterday denied he was a violent man, and said the PCA investigation into his death in custody should look into why police initially said Mr Byrne was the occupier of the flat. They later said he called while detectives exercising a search warrant were interviewing the tenants.

Mr Byrne was arrested for possession of drugs, but tried to escape down the staircase. Officers caught him, the police said, and brought him back to the flat. He was seated on a sofa and handcuffed. Mr Byrne got up, went to the window, and was 'seen to fall'.

Later, Detective Superintendent Geoff MacDonald, investigating the death for the PCA, said Mr Byrne had been apprehended 75 yards from the flats in Scone Close, a cul de sac of bungalows.

Yesterday several witnesses living near the tower block voiced concern about the amount of force they considered was used when the police apprehended Mr Byrne. One elderly woman said her nephew urged them to 'go easy'.

Witnesses said Mr Byrne was dragged from a bungalow by two officers, along a path, across a grassed area and back to the flats. Two witnesses said Mr Byrne had not been handcuffed as he was taken across the green.

Mr MacDonald said: 'We have had as yet no allegations of excessive force being used. I do not know why (Mr Byrne) was not handcuffed when he was apprehended in Scone Close.'