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Edson Da Costa inquest coroner calls for more police awareness of choking risk after young father's death

PUBLISHED: 07:00 29 August 2019 | UPDATED: 16:56 29 August 2019

Edson Da Costa. Picture: submitted

Edson Da Costa. Picture: submitted

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A coroner has urged the Met to make officers more aware of the risks of suspects choking on plastic bags after the death of a man who put wraps of Class A drugs in his mouth.

A vigil for Edson Da Costa was held on the anniversary of his death. Picture: Tom HortonA vigil for Edson Da Costa was held on the anniversary of his death. Picture: Tom Horton

Nadia Persaud, senior coroner at East London Coroner's Court, has written to Met commissioner, Cressida Dick, calling for reviews into training, guidance and procedures after the inquest into the death of Edir Da Costa, known as Edson.

Edson, of Wilton Way, Hackney, was 25 when he died following a police stop in the Woodcocks Estate, Beckton, on June 15, 2017.

The car trader died in hospital six days later. A jury concluded he died as a result of misadventure after his airway became blocked by a plastic bag containing drugs.

Ms Persaud, in a prevention of future deaths report, states: "Placing plastic bags in the mouth raises a very high risk of choking.

"Police officers should be aware of these risks."

The senior coroner called for training to be reviewed to make sure officers are "fully informed" about the risks.

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Four officers were involved in restraining Edson with CS gas sprayed in his face so they could handcuff him.

The inquest heard using of the spray when a person has something in their mouth could increase the risk of blocking an airway.

The use prompted Ms Persaud to request a review of guidance and procedures in relation to the agent.

Extra training was also needed after an expert at the inquest explained Edson's breaths - described as like "yawning" by one officer - were "beyond reasonable doubt" agonal breathing, a sign of a severe medical emergency missed by police.

Noise levels at the Met's communications command centre needed reviewing too after a controller gave an incorrect address and map reference to the London Ambulance Service (LAS).

The same controller failed to follow the correct procedure to update the LAS that Edson had stopped breathing leading to calls for staff to be made fully aware of the correct steps.

A Met spokesman said: "We have received the coroner's report. The MPS will always fully engage in the coronial process and we have made a full response to the coroner's report.

"The death of anyone after involvement with police is of course a matter of regret and we welcome the range of independent processes that exist to provide full scrutiny of the facts.

"Our sympathies remain with Mr Da Costa's family and friends for their loss."

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