Police are investigating a secret Facebook site which has called on police officers to stage a counter protest to a demonstration that was planned to demand justice for Kingsley Burrell, who died in custody. The call was made on Facebook page “Support for PC Adey” – which describes itself as a “secret group with 1.2k members” – and contains messages from supporters, some of whom appear to be serving officers. That is a reference to PC Paul Adey, sacked by West Midlands Police last month for breaching standards over the restraint used on Mr Burrell after he was arrested and sectioned in 2011. Facebook offers users the opportunity to create three kinds of groups: Public, Closed or Secret. The latter can be seen only by members and former members, but the Sunday Mercury has seen some of them. Many vent anger about the officer’s treatment and are highly critical of community activist Desmond Jaddoo and Charlie Williams, leading members of the Kingsley Burrell campaign. West Midlands Police says it is looking into the site. A spokesman told the Sunday Mercury: “We are looking into whether any of these comments have been made by officers and staff of West Midlands Police. “We expect the highest standards of those who work in the organisation. The Code of Ethics sets and defines the standard of behaviour expected for everyone who works in policing.” Both Mr Jaddoo and Mr Williams have described the group’s existence as proof of a rogue element within the West Midlands force, and have called on the West Midlands Crime Commissioner and the Independent Office for Police Conduct to scrutinise the social media site. The two men decided to pull the plug on a Birmingham city centre march, which was to have taken place yesterday (Saturday), after officers were urged to stage their own show of support for their ousted colleague. The pair made the decision on public safety grounds. A message on ‘Support for PC Adey’ calls on all police officers, police staff and their families who are off duty to stage their own march in support of “Paul and the boys”, saying that everyone is entitled to peacefully protest and has the right to assemble. It asks officers to meet at Newtown, and hopes that the counter-protest will outnumber the planned Burrell demo. A police misconduct panel found PC Adey guilty of giving a false account of Mr Burrell’s collapse. Two other officers, PC Mark Fannon and PC Paul Greenfield, were cleared of allegations of using excessive force and giving dishonest accounts. One post on the site shows all three smiling policemen together in uniform. Supporters say that they are sick of what they see as untruths being told and the way they believe the police are portrayed in a bad light. The postponed demonstration by the Burrell family’s supporters was a protest over the two cleared officers’ return to full duty in Birmingham city centre, and would have wound its way from Lozells Road to Summer Lane police station, “We decided to pull back on the march because we feared for public safety,” said Mr Jaddoo. “We don’t want to be accused of starting a riot. “This Facebook group shows West Midlands Police need to put their house in order because there are major issues that are draining trust and confidence. If West Midlands Police are baffled over why they met with a wall of silence, it is because of rogue elements of this nature.” Mr Burrell, aged 29, died of cardiac arrest days after being detained. He had been arrested and sectioned after alleging that he had been threatened with a gun in Birmingham. While being physically restrained at a psychiatric unit, a cover was partially placed over his face to stop him spitting, the misconduct hearing was told. The panel decided PC Adey had lied about not seeing the cover on Mr Burrell’s face and failed in his duty of care by not removing it – but he was cleared of an allegation of using excessive force.
At the hearing, held at Sutton Coldfield Police Station, the policeman was dismissed without notice for gross misconduct. Mike Colbourne, Deputy Chief Constable of Bedfordshire Police, told the panel: “We have found him (PC Adey) to be in breach of standards of professional behaviour, honesty and integrity.”
Kingsley Burrell’s death has been the subject of long, exhaustive investigation and legal proceedings. Feelings have run high in the local community. A 2015 inquest ruled that prolonged restraint and the failure to provide basic medical attention, had been a factor in Mr Burrell’s demise. Two years later, PCs Adey, Fannon and Greenfield were cleared at Birmingham Crown Court of perverting the course of justice.Charlie Williams, an ever-present at rallies for Mr Burrell, described the existence of the Facebook group as “highly significant”. “Initially, it was a rumour,” said the activist. “Then creditable information, then evidence. There are ex-officers and serving officers in that group. “We’ve known about it, but to see it up there is mindblowing, and significant. It has become very personal.” The call for a public enquiry has been backed by Mr Burrell’s family. Following the disciplinary panel’s decision, a spokesman told the Guardian newspaper: “This is not the end of the road for our quest for justice, as it is now our intention to renew our calls for a public inquiry into this.”
The inquest into Kingsley Burrell’s death at Edgbaston’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital heard he had been handcuffed for hours while waiting assessment and, after struggling, was left face-down in a secure room with a blanket over his head. PC Adey told the inquest he did not remember if Mr Burrell’s head had been covered with the blanket. Following the misconduct hearing, Derrick Campbell, Independent Office for Police Conduct regional director, said: “We have undertaken two complex investigations surrounding the sad death of Mr Burrell which have led to the gross misconduct proceedings that ended today, as well as the earlier criminal trial at which the officers were acquitted. “The evidence we gathered also helped to inform the inquest held in 2015. The actions of the officers involved, their use of force and the accounts they since gave have been thoroughly and independently scrutinised, and the disciplinary panel has now made its decisions and findings. “The overall length of time taken since Mr Burrell’s death to reach today’s conclusion is regrettable, and I have no doubt of the profound effect this has had on all concerned. “Our first investigation took longer than it should have but it involved criminal interviews with the primary officers, witness interviews with ten other police officers and over a dozen medical staff, and the analysis of a large range of expert opinion. “I again send my condolences to the family and friends of Kingsley Burrell at this difficult time.” Kingsley’s sister Kedisha Brown Burrell said: “It has been an arduous journey for our family. No family should have to go through an untimely death.
“The disregard of Kingsley, the lack of care, and ultimately the lying at the inquest, criminal trial and now this misconduct hearing, brings the police into disrepute. Losing his job is nothing to my one and only brother losing his life.”
Source: Birmingham Mail: https://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/midlands-news/kingsley-custody-death-police-probe-15635339