Why is a medical examiner jury being formed

Christopher Alder dies - Deerfield, Kansas

Christopher Ibikunle Alder
date April 1, 1998 (1998) -04-01) (37 years)
place Queen's Gardens Police Station, Kingston upon Hull
root cause Postular suffocation
  • Police Sergeant John Dunn
  • Police Officer Matthew Barr
  • Police Officer Neil Blakey
  • Police Officer Nigel Dawson
  • Police Officer Mark Ellerington
accusation homicide
judgment Acquitted on instruction of the judge to the jury

Christopher Alder was a budding computer programmer and former British paratrooper who served in the Falklands War and was commended for his service in the Army in Northern Ireland. He died in police custody at Queen's Gardens Police Station in Kingston upon Hull in April 1998. The case became a celebre for civil rights activists in the UK. He was previously the victim of an attack outside a nightclub and was taken to the Hull Royal Infirmary, where staff said his behavior was "extremely problematic", possibly due to his head injury. "He was taken out of the hospital by two police officers who arrested him to prevent a breach of the peace.

Upon arriving at the police station, Alder was "partly dragged and partly carried", handcuffed and unconscious from a police car and laid on the floor of the detention suite. The officers laughed and joked among themselves, speculating that Alder was feigning illness. Twelve minutes later, one of the officers present noticed that Alder was making no breathing noises and, despite attempting resuscitation, he was pronounced dead at the scene. An autopsy indicated that the head injury alone would not have killed him. The incident was captured on the police station's CCTV (closed circuit television) cameras.

A medical examiner jury in 2000 returned the verdict that Alder was unlawfully killed. In 2002, five police officers were tried for manslaughter and misconduct by Alder in public office but were acquitted on the judge's orders. In 2006, a report by the Independent Police Complaints Commission concluded that four of the officers in the detention suite at the time of Alder's death were guilty of "gross negligence" and "ignorant racism." In November 2011, the government formally apologized to Alder's family before the European Court of Human Rights, admitting that they had violated their obligations to "preserve life and ensure that no one is inhuman or degrading treatment." They gave treatment also that they had not conducted an effective and independent investigation into the case.

Christopher Alder

Christopher Ibikunle Alder (June 25, 1960 - April 1, 1998) was a black British man of Nigerian descent, born in Hull in 1960. He joined the British Army at 16 and served in the Parachute Regiment for six years. After leaving the Army, he first settled in Andover, Hampshire before moving to Dagger Lane in Hull in 1990. In 1998 he took a college course in computer literacy in Hull. He had two sons who had stayed with their mother in the Andover area when their parents separated.

Events that led to death

The Waterfront Club

Around 7 p.m. on March 31, 1998, Alder went to Hull for the evening with two friends, visiting several local bars and a fast food restaurant before Alder suggested going to the Waterfront Club (later renamed The Sugar Mill), a nightclub on Prince's Dock Street in the old town of the city. His companions, who later stated that Alder had only drunk two liters of lager and two bottles of Beck's beer at this point in the evening and that he "seemed sober", declined the invitation. Alder went to the club alone around 10:30 p.m. There he drank two or three liters of lager. At around 1:30 p.m., Alder got into a disagreement with another customer, Jason Ramm, which resulted in Ramm being expelled from the club. Ramm waited near Prince's Dock Street until Alder left the club at 2:15 p.m. and another confrontation ensued, which was recorded on the outside surveillance of the club. A third person, Jason Paul, tried to end the fight and was beaten by Alder. Paul reciprocated by slapping Alder in the face, which resulted in him falling backwards, hitting his head on the sidewalk, and passing out. The nightclub staff phoned the emergency services, and an ambulance took Alder - who had recovered at the time - to the royal infirmary in Hull.

Two police officers, PC Nigel Dawson and PC Neil Blakey, who had arrived in a tagged patrol car shortly after the ambulance, made no attempt to speak to Alder. They conferred with the club manager, who showed them into the house to review the club's CCTV footage of the incident. A message they sent to their control room at this point indicates that they had already assumed Alder was very drunk, despite not having spoken to him or notified of it by any of the witnesses they had spoken to. A third officer, Mark Ellerington, Acting Police Sergeant (A / PS), arrived at about 2.50 a.m. after the ambulance left and went in to speak to the club manager and the officers already present. Dawson and Blakey told him Alder was drunk. The IPCC report later criticized the police's attitudes, saying: "This ruling, based on very little evidence, suggests that the two officers made assumptions about Mr. Alder's behavior, attributing it to alcohol rather than alcohol. " The injury was suffered from the beginning in dealing with him. "

Hull Royal Infirmary

The ambulance arrived at the hospital at 2:44 am, where Alder was described by a witness who treated him as "confused and dazed" and "generally abusive". One of the ambulance crew medics who brought him there said that Alder asked, "Where am I? What happened?" One of the nurses who treated him also stated that he not only abused and cursed her, but also asked, "Where am I, what am I doing?" Two police officers present in the emergency room on an unrelated matter intervened once and asked him to cooperate with the nursing staff. They later recalled that he calmed down but remained "confused". PC Dawson and PC Blakey arrived at the hospital around 3:05 a.m. Alder again became uncooperative with the hospital staff, and the police control room was informed by officers at 3:19 am: "Our complainant is a bit of a nuisance. Probably the reason he was beaten in the first one." Location. "The doctor who examined Alder listed his injuries as follows:

  • Hematoma on the back of the head caused by impact but not consistent with a direct blow
  • localized swelling in the area of ​​his left side upper lip
  • two wounds on the left side of his upper lip that weren't bleeding
  • The front left canine was knocked out and the adjacent tooth on the top left was loosened and pressed into the mouth
  • minimal bleeding from the knocked out tooth

The medical staff tried to take an x-ray of Alder's head injury, but he wouldn't stay still and they gave up. PC Dawson wrote in his notebook at the time that Alder was "heavily drunk in alcohol" and "typical of people I've seen on amphetamines in the past". The staff eventually decided that without his cooperation they would not be able to continue treating Alder, and the police asked if he was well enough to be taken into police custody. The attending physician agreed. A subsequent (2005) Health Commission report on medical treatment Alder received described this decision as "flawed ... [D] the doctor had not yet made a diagnosis. He was unable to carry out his plan of treatment for." Christopher Alder, for example, to have him under observation, X-ray his skull and refer him to a maxillary facial surgeon. Nevertheless, he decided to fire him without seeking advice from an older colleague. "This could also lead to the assumption of the Police officers helped ensure that Alder's condition was not serious. Alder was forcibly removed from the hospital by the Dawson and Blakey PCs. Medical staff said he was pulled back by his arms and his legs were hanging on the floor. The police said, however, that Alder walked out of the house unassisted, even though they held him gently to prevent him from falling and "leading" him.

When Alder was out of the hospital, he quarreled with the police officer who originally told him to go home and he was arrested to prevent a violation of the peace. A / PS Ellerington drove to the hospital to collect Alder for transport to the police station and detention. The vehicle used was a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter with a cage section in the rear. Although handcuffed, a witness later said he remembered Alder climbing into the back of the van without assistance.

Queen's Gardens Police Station

Upon arriving at the police station, after a drive of approximately six minutes, the doors of the delivery van were opened and the police described that Alder had been found "sleeping" and "snoring". He was dragged out of the van into the detention suite by the Dawson and Blakey PCs at 3:46 am, "unresponsive" with his hands cuffed behind his back, his legs and feet pulled across the floor, and his face just above the floor. His pants and briefs had been pulled down to his knees, possibly by pulling on the surface of the floor, and one of his shoes was off. A / PS Ellerington followed them inside. Two police officers, Police Sergeant (PS) John Dunn and PC Matthew Barr, were already on duty in the detention suite. Dunn was the custody officer and Barr was the cell guard.

Dawson and Blakey left Alder face down on the floor, where a pool of blood formed around his mouth from video surveillance. One of the officers commented on the blood, but no attempt was made to examine Alder. PS Dunn was heard on CCTV footage that Alder was about to be taken to the hospital, to which Dawson and Blakey respond that they just got from there and believe that Alder is faking unconsciousness. Dawson said, "This is now acting" and "This is just an acting thing" while Blakey said, "He's right like rain ... This is a show that" and "He kept doing dying swan acts by the [Hospital] Cart. "A / PS Ellerington also later stated that he believed Alder was faking" deep sleep. " PS Dunn stated that he: "has formed the opinion, as I testify, that the man's behavior at the moment may be playful or attention-grabbing."

Queen's Gardens Police Station, Hull.

After a few minutes the handcuffs were removed; Alder's arms moved immobile behind his back and no attempt was made to examine or wake him. The officers went to the opposite side of the counter while a discussion took place about what crimes he should be charged with and whether there was any possible justification for detaining him, since the possibility of a peace-breaking had clearly passed. Alder could be heard making "gurgling" noises as he breathed in and out through the pool of blood around his face. PS Dunn later stated that although he was aware of the gurgle, he ignored it, believing that Alder was deliberately blowing the blood to "anger" the officers. PC Barr later stated that he believed the sounds were "for our attention, in other words he put them on, which exactly matched what PC Dawson had told us".

The audio track of the CCTV footage appears to indicate that officials were making monkey noises, a common form of racist abuse against black people. At 3:57 p.m. PC Barr pointed out that Alder was making no noise and PS Dunn walked around the counter to check him out. Officers began attempting resuscitation and requested an ambulance at 3:59 a.m. It arrived at 4:04 a.m. and was operated by the same crew that had previously transported Alder from the Waterfront Club to the Hull Royal Infirmary.

Although the crew had been informed that the victim had "breathing difficulties", the only equipment that they were admitted to the custody suite was a bag valve mask. The paramedic later admitted that when he got the call, he had told his colleague "that it would likely be someone trying to drag a sick person (i.e. a fake illness) into not going to court in the morning appear." He had to return to the ambulance outside to collect the necessary equipment and only have to return after another minute. The ambulance technician who first examined Alder said he had tight, dilated pupils, no pulse, and no breathing. They finally stopped CPR at 4:35 a.m.

Alder's clothing was subsequently destroyed by a team from the West Yorkshire Police investigating the death and was never subjected to a forensic examination.

Investigation of death

During an investigation in 2000, the jury came to the verdict of unlawful homicide. The five police officers present in the detention suite at the time were asked to testify during the investigation, but refused to answer questions more than 150 times during the hearing, referring to the Coroners Rules that the answer be self-supplying could be incriminating evidence. They were subsequently charged with misconduct in public office. Shortly after the verdict was returned, Federal Police-assisted officers attempted to overturn it through judicial review. They alleged that the coroner should not have given the jury a verdict of unlawful killing as an option, as the breaches of duty alleged against them could not result in gross negligence. They also claimed that a juror was "in love" with the prosecutor and that "there is a real possibility that her infatuation will be turned into bias". The request for judicial review was dismissed by the High Court of Justice in April 2001.

Lawsuit against police officers

The Crown Prosecutor's Office initially ruled that there wasn't enough evidence to bring criminal charges against the officers. After reviewing the medical evidence, the officers were charged with Alder's manslaughter in March 2002. In June 2002, the trial collapsed when the judge ordered the jury not to find the officers guilty on all charges. After the acquittal, the officers were exempted from any wrongdoing by an internal police disciplinary investigation.

In July 2003, Attorney General Lord Goldsmith questioned the legal validity of the officers' acquittals and sent the judgment to the appellate court "to clarify the threshold for evidence in future deaths", although this would not affect the double risk acquittal that was true at the time. In April 2004, the BBC television series Rough Justice aired "Death On Camera," a program investigating the circumstances of Alder's death, including CCTV footage from the custody suite that had not previously been seen by the public. Because of the program and the public concern about it, Home Secretary David Blunkett asked the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) to review the case. In December 2004, four of the five police officers received early retirement for stress-related medical reasons and received flat-rate compensation between £ 44,000 and £ 66,000 and pensions. All officials denied requests to participate in the IPCC investigation. In March 2006, IPCC Chairman Nick Hardwick said the officials present when Alder died were guilty of "the most serious breach of duty" that amounts to "ignorant racism".

In September 2006, Leon Wilson, one of Alder's sons, went to the High Court to challenge the Home Office's refusal to reopen the case. The judge denied his case, saying it was "legally acceptable that the foreign minister believes that more valuable evidence cannot emerge."

Civil proceedings on the basis of an investigation

In January 2006, a civil jury also found that a man had been illegally arrested on the night of his death and charged with assaulting Alder "in order to divert attention from the role the police themselves played in Mr. Alder's death."


In November 2011, Alder was discovered in the morgue of the Hull Royal Infirmary, eleven years after his family believed they had buried him. An exhumation of his grave in Hull North Cemetery on February 21, 2012 revealed that Grace Kamara, a 77-year-old woman, had been buried in his place. South Yorkshire Police Superintendent Richard Fewkes announced that a criminal investigation was underway to determine if a public office criminal was committed.

Deaths in police custody

Alder was one of 69 people. Between 1990 and 2011, 980 people died in police custody. Only one police officer was ever convicted of such a death, although prosecutions based on "relatively strong evidence of wrongdoing or neglect" were recommended against 13 officers. Successful prosecution related to the death of Craig Boyd in March 2004. Boyd hanged himself with a shoelace in his cell at St. Mary's Wharf Police Station, Derby. PC David Stoll, the manager of the custody suite, was watching the Disney film Finding Nemo with two other officers. Custody records were forged to show officials visiting the cells "which were not substantiated by video evidence". Stoll was found guilty of misconduct in public office and sentenced to six months in prison, with one year suspended.

In 1999, Judge Gerald Butler criticized the prosecution for failing to take action against a number of deaths in police custody. He made several recommendations to improve accountability and expressed "unease" about the current system. In a December 2010 report, the IPCC suggested that juries "are unwilling to convict police officers". The report, which covered deaths in custody in England and Wales between 1998 and 2010, concluded that in 16 cases, reluctance by officials was the direct cause of death, four of which were classified as "positional asphyxia". The majority of the deaths were classified as natural causes, many of which related to drug or alcohol abuse, and the authors urged the Home Office and Ministry of Health to manage facilities with medical care to replace police cells. "Deborah Coles, co-director of the charity and campaign group Inquest, said," The study points to alarming failures in caring for vulnerable inmates suffering from mental health, drug and alcohol problems, many of which should have been out of the country Police custody diverted. "

According to the report, "fewer than half of detainees in custody who should have undergone a risk assessment were actually assessed," during "incidents where custody officers failed to perform proper checks or detainees thoroughly alerted to their condition Checks were widespread. ”The custodians and staff also lacked basic first aid training. Mike Franklin, the IPCC commissioner, said, "What emerges most clearly from the report is the medical and mental health needs of a large number of people arrested by police" and asked if custody "is the best place for." a large number of people are people the police are dealing with. "

On September 1, 2011, the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 was extended to all deaths in police detention suites, prison cells, and mental health detention centers, and Young Offenders Institutions.


Alder's story was told in the play Typical, written by Ryan Calais Cameron and produced by Nouveau Riche. Richard Blackwood starred in the one-man show in the role of Alder.

See also