Rashan Charles: Police officer admits he did not follow first aid training
- Credit: Emma Bartholomew
The police officer who restrained Rashan Charles shortly before his death has admitted failing to follow parts of his first aid training when dealing with the incident.
The Pc admitted he did not follow procedure in assessing whether the 20-year-old was breathing properly or choking as he tried to detain him.
Rashan died in the early hours of July 22 last year, shortly after he was chased and wrestled to the ground in Yours Locally, Kingsland Road.
A “golf ball-sized” package was removed from his mouth by paramedics who attended the scene shortly after he was tackled to the ground by the officer, a man who has been granted anonymity during Rashan’s inquest at St Pancras Coroners Court.
During cross-examination by Jude Bunting, acting for Rashan’s mother and grandmother, this afternoon the officer was asked a series of questions about his training and how he had applied the manuals in his attempt to restrain Mr Charles.
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The constable, referred to in court only as BX47, had been with the Met’s territorial support group, a specialist public order unit, for seven years at the time, had been given annual first aid refresher courses, completed officer safety training 21 times and public order courses on 32 times since reaching the highest possible level in September 2010.
On the night of the incident, BX47 used a “seatbelt” arm lock to take Rashan to the ground before a member of the public, referred to in court as Witness 1, helped hold him still so the officer could handcuff him.
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Once he had, the officer turned Rashan on his side and attempted several “abdominal thrusts” before an officer who was more experienced in first aid arrived.
Mr Bunting, reading from a training manual on emergency life support, asked BX47 how he could be sure Rashan was breathing as he was lying prone on the floor in handcuffs because he had not carried out a check which is required to last ten seconds.
“Well because I could hear him breathing when I did my breathing check and I could see his chest rise and fall,” BX47 said.
“It was not for 10 seconds but I could definitely hear him breathing.”
The inquest heard the officer had told Rashan to “spit it out” nine times, in reference to what he suspected was drugs he might have swallowed.
BX47 called for back-up at 46 minutes and 55 seconds after midnight on July 22.
He then radioed again for an ambulance at 48 minutes and 19 seconds past midnight, after being prompted by Witness 1, having tried to use the device moments earlier when the line was busy.
Asked why he had not followed the training manual and asked Rashan if he was choking, or deemed him an immediate medical emergency and called an ambulance, BX47 said: “That would probably be that I was not aware he was choking.
“He was not exhibiting the signs I would have been looking for, which all made the situation harder to gauge.”
Mr Bunting said: “It seems you did not apply any of that training - did you forget or did you just choose not to apply it?”
The officer replied: “At that point there was a lot going on - I was trying to, I was monitoring him and what to do next in order to best deal with his condition.
“In an ideal world, as documented in training manuals, that would be great. Unfortunately at the time having been through that situation, having run that far, struggling and trying to work out what was happening - that was what I did because I was dealing with what was presented to me on the ability that I had to recognised things and what I thought was best at the time.”
But the officer agreed when Mr Bunting said: “That’s why you are trained to do all these things we just looked at, and you did not do them.”
“Yes,” he said.
But he denied he was “panicking” and, when asked by Mr Bunting if he agreed he had lost control of the situation, he replied: “I would not say I completely lost control of the situation, no.”
The officer told the jury of seven men and four women he would now approach a similar situation differently.
The coroner Mary Hassell said: “When you look back on this now, and I’m sure you thought about it a great deal, is there anything that you think ‘I would like to do that differently, and I must stress this, with the information you had at the time?”
BX47 replied: “At the time it was very difficult because I was trying - I did not know exactly what I was dealing with.
“That was what I was kid of concentrating on - trying to work out exactly what I was dealing with.
“In hindsight now, I would say yes there’s plenty of things if I was to go into another situation I would do - I would do differently but at the time with what I was given, I was not able to work out exactly what the problem was and how to deal with it.”