Edson Da Costa inquest: Friend tells of moment officers arrested young father

Edson Da Costa. Picture: submitted

Edson Da Costa. Picture: submitted - Credit: Archant

A man with a young father on the night he was detained by police before his death tried to free him from officers, an inquest has heard.

Edir Da Costa, 25, known to friends and family as Edson, was detained in Beckton on June 15, 2017 and died at Newham University Hospital six days later.

A jury at Walthamstow Coroner's Court heard that on the night of June 15, Claude Greenaway was travelling in a rented purple, A-class Mercedes driven by Jussara Gomes along with Edson, of Wilton Way, Hackney.

They were planning to go to Asda to get food but were stopped by an unmarked police car, the jury heard.

After police ordered them out of the Mercedes, Mr Greenaway, who had known Edson since childhood, said he saw two officers grab his friend and fling him face down to the floor.

Edson was put into a headlock by one officer while another kneed him in the side trying to hand cuff him, Mr Greenaway said.

He said five officers were on top of Edson trying to cuff him.

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"At that point I think he was already choking. He was not trying to resist.

"He was shaking. They were big guys," Mr Greenaway said. He said that one of the officers then sprayed CS spray into Edson's face.

"They were acting like it was WWF. I know it because I relive it everyday. I have nightmares about it," Mr Greenaway said.

He said people from the estate came out of their homes with some filming what was happening and others shouting to officers that they would kill him.

"I saw Edson's hands go from clenched to unclenched then drop to his side. His legs stopped moving and my heart stopped.

"I could not hear him choking but I believed he was."

He described rushing over to Edson, trying to push the officers off him then seeing the 25-year-old reach for his hand before an officer grabbed it to cuff him.

"It was as if he was trying to tell me something. Then I saw his eyes roll to the back of his head," Mr Greenaway said. "I pulled Edson towards me but he just dropped."

It was after this that Mr Greenaway saw stuff coming out of Edson's mouth, the jury heard.

He described shouting at the officers to call an ambulance who he said told him they were professionals and knew what they were doing.

"I felt he was gone," he said.

"I kept saying, 'You've killed him, you've killed him'.

"When it stopped my heart stopped. A piece of me broke away from me there and then. My whole body went cold.

"Everything afterwards it was as if [the officers] were trying to wish for a miracle," he said.

Mr Greenaway denied he had been involved in drug dealing on June 15 and whether he knew Edson had a large number of wraps of drugs on him.

He denied being involved in a drug dealing enterprise with Jussara Gomes and Edson linked to the 'Portuguese Mafia' gang.

And he answered no when Ms Persaud asked him if his dealings with police in the past had influenced his account of wha happened that night.

He also denied knowledge of a Lucozade bottle containing ammonia found in the Mercedes.

On his relationship with Ms Gomes he said in the statement given to police on the night of the incident that he met her just that week but in an IOPC statement he described her as his girlfriend.

Mr Greenaway said: "You could have said anything to me. I was going out of my mind.

"It was a messed up night."

The inquest continues.