Edson Da Costa: Changes to police guidance on use of CS spray revealed following inquest verdict

Edson Da Costa. Picture: Submitted

Edson Da Costa. Picture: Submitted - Credit: Archant

The results of a national review into the use of CS spray on people suspected of concealing drugs in their mouths have been announced following an inquest that concluded Edir Da Costa’s death was due to “misadventure”.

A jury yesterday concluded Edir Da Costa, of Wilton Way, Hackney, died after trying to swallow wraps of class A drugs during a police stop in Beckton on June 15, 2017.

During the incident, one officer sprayed CS in his face.

The 25-year-old car trader, a father known to friends as Edson, died six days later.

During an Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) investigation prompted by Edson's death, the watchdog found there was a lack of guidance for officers doing oral searches and using CS spray on a person suspected of having something in their mouth.

IOPC regional director Sal Naseem said: "The death of Mr Da Costa is a tragedy and my sympathies are with all involved.

"It is critical we share the insights we gain from our investigations and consider what can be done to prevent such incidents from occurring again."

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The IOPC requested the College of Policing (CoP) - which trains officers - carry out a review because there was no agreed medical position on using CS spray in those situations.

The study by the Met's medical director of forensic healthcare services concluded CS is more likely to cause coughing that might lead to an object coming out of a person's mouth rather than a gasp that could see it slip down the throat and cause a blockage.

Mr Naseem said: "The fact Mr Da Costa sadly died in this incident demonstrates the huge dangers in trying to conceal items in this way from police and the potentially fatal consequences."

The IOPC also recommended the Met look again at how it monitors emergency life support training.

Officers are now responsible for making sure their training is up to date. CoP guidance on mouth searches has also been changed.

The Walthamstow Coroner's Court jury also recorded a narrative of facts on Thursday that noted Edson "died from the consequences of cardiorespiratory arrest after his upper airway was obstructed by a plastic bag containing drugs he had placed in his mouth".