Custody death man ‘could not breathe’

originally published by: BBC News
11th January 2010

A cocaine addict who died in custody told officers “you’re killing me” as he was arrested at his girlfriend’s south-east London home, an inquest has heard.

Paul Coker, 32, died at Plumstead police station, two hours after he was arrested at Lucy Chadwick’s house for breaching the peace on 6 August 2005. Mr Coker had shouted “I can’t breathe, you’re killing me”, Ms Chadwick told Southwark Coroner’s Court. A jury will decide if police followed correct detention procedures. The court heard Mr Coker became unwell and collapsed after being transported to cells.

Coroner Selina Lynch told jurors that a pathologist’s report gave the cause of death as cocaine intoxication.

Members of Mr Coker’s family, including his mother Patricia Coker, were present in court. Giving evidence, Ms Chadwick said Mr Coker had been taking cocaine and cannabis and had become “a bit paranoid”.

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