Police officer under investigation following Mohamud Hassan death hours after custody release
An officer is being investigated following the death of Mohamud Hassan hours after he was released from custody, the police watchdog has said.
The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) said it was investigating whether the officer failed to relay Mr Hassan’s complaints of having a fit and being in pain to custody staff after arriving at Cardiff Bay police station.
Mr Hassan (pictured), 24, was arrested at his home in Newport Road, Cardiff, on the evening of January 8 on suspicion of a breach of the peace, but was released the following morning without charge.
The father-to-be was found dead at his property later on January 9, with his family’s claims that he was assaulted while in custody sparking demonstrations outside the police station where he was held.
The matter was referred by South Wales Police to the IOPC for an independent investigation, while campaigners’ calls for CCTV and police bodycam footage to be made public have been refused in case they are needed for potential criminal, misconduct, or inquest proceedings.
On Monday, the IOPC said in a statement an officer who attended Mr Hassan’s home and accompanied him to custody in a police van had been served a misconduct notice.
The spokesperson said: “The officer attended the Newport Road, Cardiff address on 8 January and accompanied Mr Hassan to Cardiff Bay custody unit in the rear of a police van.
“During this time period, Mr Hassan was heard on body worn camera to complain of having a fit, suffering a migraine, and displayed signs of experiencing pain.
“The misconduct notice relates to this information potentially not being passed to custody staff in charge of Mr Hassan’s welfare.”
The spokesperson said the misconduct notice “does not necessarily mean an officer has committed any wrongdoing” but that an officer’s conduct was being investigated.
The most serious sanction that can be imposed if an officer is found to have breached professional standards at misconduct level is a written warning.
IOPC director for Wales, Catrin Evans, said: “We are continuing to analyse the footage and piece together other evidence, and we are looking at all the interaction police had with Mr Hassan over the weekend of his death.
“In the course of an investigation, where an indication arises that an officer may have breached professional standards that may warrant a disciplinary sanction, we serve a disciplinary notice to advise them they are subject to investigation.
“We have advised Mr Hassan’s family and South Wales Police that we have done so for one officer over possibly not passing information about Mr Hassan’s welfare to the custody sergeant on duty.
“We keep misconduct notices under review during the course of an investigation. At the conclusion of an investigation the IOPC decides whether any officer under notice has a disciplinary case to answer.”
Lawyer Hilary Brown, who is representing Mr Hassan’s family, told the PA news agency the family were “hugely distressed” to hear that he had been in pain or was injured during his time in custody.
Ms Brown said: “We don’t know the source of those injuries.
“But conveying that to a police officer, who should have then highlighted this to a custody sergeant, one thinks that if that had been done then maybe medical attention would have been sought for him.
“I can’t see how they say this could lead to misconduct. This is gross misconduct that is so serious could have contributed to the loss of somebody’s life.”
She said the family had called for the immediate suspension of the officer involved, and that a potential written warning “in no way reflects the seriousness of the negligence”.
Ms Brown added that Mr Hassan had no prior history of suffering from fits.
A statement from South Wales Police said: “The force continues to fully co-operate with the IOPC investigation and is providing them with information and material, including CCTV footage and body-worn video.
“We acknowledge the impact Mr Hassan’s death has had on his family, friends and the wider community. Our thoughts and condolences continue to be with them.”
Copyright (c) PA Media Ltd. 2020, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Lee Jasper Blog.