A formal complaint has been sent to Police Scotland and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon about the case of a man called Alan Hay who died in police custody after alleged misconduct by officers.
A letter sent by lawyer Aamer Anwar, published today by The Ferret, formally requests an investigation into the actions of Police Scotland after a fatal accident inquiry (FAI) found that officers mocked Hay when he begged them for help.
In a 122-page ruling last week Sheriff Linda Ruxton said police officers could have spared Hay “a great deal of suffering” if they had sent him to hospital when his condition deteriorated overnight.
Police officers were “derogatory, mocking, offensive and insulting”, she said, adding there was “little genuine sympathy shown to a man seriously ill and in need of help”.
Hay, 49, was arrested at 12.45pm on 1 August 2016, after a disturbance in Dalbeattie, Dumfriesshire, where officers used pepper spray to subdue him.
He collapsed and died within six hours of leaving the police station, and within an hour of arriving by transfer at Barlinnie Prison in Glasgow.
Hay was so neglected in a Dumfries police cell that he was left to lick spilled medicine off a plastic mattress to ease his pain.
He's "rolling around the floor squealing like a pig" Police officer's comment about Hay before he died.
On CCTV footage from the station, he is heard begging for help and repeating: “I’m just gonnae die”.
For almost three hours, however, staff largely ignored his pleas for help, laughed when he wept and joked about him vomiting.
One officer described Hay as “rolling around the floor squealing like a pig” while another called him a “fucking dick”.
Aamer Anwar, lawyer for Hay’s family, has now written to Police Scotland Chief Constable, Iain Livingstone, to request an investigation of the officers criticised.
First Minister Sturgeon and Justice Secretary, Humza Yousaf, have also received a copy of the letter.
Anwar described the indictment delivered by Sheriff Ruxton as damning. “I write formally requesting an investigation into allegations of misconduct by Police Scotland officers. I submit that multiple officers showed a complete and utter contempt for a dying man,” he said.
“The question I ask on behalf of Alan’s family is what action have you taken against those officers at the Police Office in Loreburn Street (in Dumfries) who failed so miserably in their duty of care to Alan Hay. I find it unacceptable that families are forced to raise questions time and time again in the midst of their grief before Police Scotland will act.”
In reply Police Scotland apologised and said it had failed to meet “the high standards of policing we strive for on a daily basis”.
Assistant Chief Constable, Kenny Macdonald, said the force had “identified and addressed a number of concerns in relation to this matter” including the introduction of NHS nurses working alongside staff in custody suites.
He continued: “An extensive review was carried out following Mr Hay’s death and recommendations relating to the frequency of cell checks, logging full details of prisoner observations and ensuring detailed supervisory handovers are carried out have been reinforced to custody staff.
“Although the Sheriff concluded that nothing could have been done to prevent Mr Hay’s death, Police Scotland is now reviewing the Sheriff’s findings to assess if further internal action is necessary.”
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The thoughts of ministers remain with Mr Hay’s family and friends following this distressing incident, and it is right that Police Scotland has apologised for the ordeal he suffered.
“It is clearly important that lessons are learned. Police Scotland has conducted an extensive review in light of this case and they will take forward a number of recommendations.”
Letter from Aamer Anwar to Police Scotland on death in custody
Photo thanks to david cameron photographer, CC BY-SA 2.0 (Cropped).