Officers punished after man died in custody

By Laura Payne Thursday 31 January 2013 Updated: 07/02 11:44

TWO officers have been found guilty of misconduct after a Sheldon man died in custody.

Lloyd Butler was arrested on August 4, 2010 after his family called the police for help as they were concerned about his behaviour.

The 39-year-old died just hours later after being taken into custody at a West Midlands Police Station.

And at an internal misconduct hearing on Friday (January 25), attended by Mr Butler's parents, a police sergeant, who was the custody sergeant on duty at the time, was found guilty of gross misconduct while a police constable was found guilty of misconduct for his role in Mr Butler's care.

The police sergeant will have a final written warning on his record indefinitely and will be dismissed if he is found guilty of misconduct within the next 18 months while the police constable will undergo further training and development.

The charges came after a critical report by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).

Mr Butler's mum, Janet Butler, said: "The officers failed in their duties to look after my son who was clearly very unwell.

"Their comments and actions, which were caught on CCTV, were completely inappropriate and extremely upsetting and distressing for the family.

"I have to live with the guilt of knowing that I called the police to try and help protect Lloyd on the day he died."

Lawyers Irwin Mitchell, who investigated Mr Butler's care on behalf of his family, said lessons need to be learnt.

Mr Butler was a known alcoholic who police officers were aware of but he was receiving help after admitting problems with drink and anger management.

The IPCC report said when officers were called Mr Butler was not violent and could not walk without help.

And despite internal police policies stating people who are drunk and incapable should be taken to hospital by ambulance, Mr Butler was arrested and taken to a police station.

The report highlights a series of errors and unacceptable behaviour by officers on duty which led to Mr Butler becoming more and more ill in the moments before he died.

Despite setting a strict observation plan of constant CCTV monitoring and visits every 30 minutes and then later every 15 minutes, officers missed some scheduled visits and those they did make did not comply with requirements to wake up a drunk detainee.

Other criticisms in the IPCC report included officers making personal phone calls and browsing the internet instead of monitoring CCTV and one officer failing to tell anyone or record that Mr Butler said he had hit his head and was injured.

Assistant Chief Constable Garry Forsyth said: "The hearing found that while the behaviour of the officers in no way contributed to the death of Mr Butler, it was found that their actions fell far below the force's expectations.

"We do not underestimate the impact this incident has had on the Butler family and the wider community and the force extends its sincere condolences to Mr Butler's family and friends."

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