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Protesters call for justice over death in detention of Kingsley Burrell

Published 09/07/2016

Kingsley Burrell had been detained under mental health laws
Kingsley Burrell had been detained under mental health laws

Protesters have called for justice more than a year after an inquest found "gross failures" contributed to the death of a father-of-three detained under the Mental Health Act.

The family of Kingsley Burrell were joined on Saturday by hundreds of people on a march through Birmingham urging action by the British authorities 14 months after an inquest jury's damning verdict regarding his death.

Those on the march met up with a separate Black Lives Matter protest being held, mirroring scenes in other UK cities, to campaign against the deaths of two black men in the United States.

In May 2015, an inquest into the death of Mr Burrell found the 29-year-old's death had been contributed to by gross failures with the coroner saying "no tragedy like this should ever happen again".

After a complaint from the victim's family about the evidence of three West Midlands Police officers' during the inquest, the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) carried out an investigation.

In October last year it referred the matter to the Crown Prosecution Service "for them to consider if any criminal offences may have been committed."

This week the CPS said it was still considering the matter and "will make a decision in due course".

The time taken by the CPS has angered Mr Burrell's family who on Saturday repeated calls for "justice" for their loved one, the day after what would have been his 35th birthday.

Protesters stopped traffic moving along a five-mile route from the Handsworth area of the city into the centre, brandishing placards reading "Justice for Kingsley Burrell".

As marchers joined with the simultaneous Black Lives Matter demonstration outside Steelhouse Lane police station, Birmingham, protesters chanted: "What do we want? Justice. When do we want it? Now."

Following the inquest, relatives of Mr Burrell had secured a meeting with Home Secretary Theresa May to discuss their concerns.

But the meeting has been held up by what Mr Burrell's family claim are delays by the CPS in making a decision over whether or not to charge the three officers.

Mr Burrell, a student from Winson Green in Birmingham, died at the city's Queen Elizabeth Hospital on March 31, 2011 four days after being detained by police.

He had dialled 999 claiming his life was under threat but was then sectioned and taken to a mental health unit, then days later was transferred to hospital.

An inquest jury ruled there were gross failures to get Mr Burrell proper medical attention, and that the use of force to restrain him and place a cover over his head contributed to his death.

The senior coroner for Birmingham Louise Hunt said she would write to the Department of Health, the College of Policing, the Association of Ambulance Chief Executives and the Home Office to ensure lessons have been learned nationally as a result.

An initial CPS investigation back in 2014, concluded there was not enough evidence to bring criminal prosecutions against anyone involved.

Desmond Jaddoo, one of the Kinglsey Burrell protest organisers, said: "The continual delay in this matter has left the Burrell family frustrated as they are no farther forward in their campaign for justice and answers."

He added: "We've been told the CPS will make a decision in due course.

"But it's been 14 months since the inquest, and the CPS have had the file since October last year.

"We are calling for an immediate decision, and then Mr Burrell's family can decide what their next move will be."

Mr Jaddoo said: "We're not going to go away and we'll keep upping the ante.

"We will keep fighting for justice for Kingsley Burrell."

A spokesman for the Crown Prosecution Service said: "Regarding the death of Kingsley Burrell, we are still considering the matter and will make a decision in due course."

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