Jury retire to consider verdict of death in police custody
The jury in the inquest of a man who died in police custody has retired to consider its verdict.
Sean Rigg, 40, of Fairmount Road, near Streatham Hill, died while in police custody on August 21, 2008.
He was arrested for public order offences after attacking passers-by in Weir Road, Balham, but collapsed shortly afterwards while in police custody.
Mr Rigg was later pronounced dead while in hospital.
The long-awaited inquest, which has lasted for seven weeks, saw police officers, emergency call handlers and medical health professionals give evidence of what happened on the night of his death.
Southwark Coroner's Court heard Mr Rigg suffered from schizophrenia and lived in a community hostel for people with mental health problems.
In the weeks leading up to his death he was refusing to take his injected medication, and began to suffer a psychotic episode.
Mr Rigg's mental health consultant, Professor Tom Fahy, told the court he was regularly arrested by police and sectioned under the Mental Health Act.
Sometimes he was sectioned in hospital, while on other occasions he was taken to the police station.
On August 21 hostel staff were forced to call police after Mr Rigg started threatening them with karate moves.
Summing up on Friday, Coroner Andrew Harris, recalled evidence from the hostel manager who battled with emergency call handlers to get the police to attend.
He said: "Angela Wood called and said he was being extremely violent and dangerous, but she was told to call an ambulance.
"Mr Gluck the contact operator suggested an ambulance to Miss Wood. He agreed in retrospect this required an immediate response."
Mr Rigg made his way to Weir Road, Balham, and was arrested by police officers following calls from worried members of the public.
He was put into the prone position before being bundled into a police van, which the court heard poses a high risk of asphyxiation for people suffering from a mental breakdown.
The court heard evidence from PC Matthew, who said Mr Rigg punched him in the head twice before his arrest.
Dr Harris said: "All of the police officers said they had no experience of mental health issues. PC Glasson was coming the end of his probation, he was the most experienced.
"PC Forward said he was growling, he never said anything. PC Forward said the discussion to take him to the police station just naturally evolved."
CCTV footage of Mr Rigg in the custody suite in Brixton Police Station was played to jurors during the inquest..
PC Glasson said he made several attempts to sit on the floor and police officers helped him stand up again, as there was concern about him being on the cold concrete floor.
But shortly afterwards he wet himself and collapsed.
Dr Harris noted that one officer on CCTV appeared to be propping him up, while on audio another can be heard saying he is feigning a fit.
The jury made up of eight women and three men retired this afternoon and are expected to return a verdict in the next few days.