Edson Da Costa inquest: Police officer ‘wasn’t aware CS gas was used’

Edson Da Costa. Picture: submitted

Edson Da Costa. Picture: submitted - Credit: Archant

A senior officer has denied trying to distance himself from the use of CS gas on a man who died after being detained in a police stop.

Edir Da Costa, also known as Edson, of Wilton Way, Hackney, was stopped by police in Beckton on June 15, 2017, and died six days later.

One of the officers involved in the stop told a jury at Walthamstow Coroner's Court today (Wednesday) he was not aware a colleague had sprayed Edson, who had wraps of Class A drugs in his mouth at the time, in the face with CS gas.

The court heard using the gas could affect a person's breathing but that when it was used the senior officer, referred to only as G15, did not believe the situation was a medical emergency at that point.

Asked by Henrietta Hill QC, representing Edson's family, whether he was trying to distance himself from the decision to use the gas, G15 said: "No, there would be no reason to distance myself from that."

The jury heard the officer did not ask Edson whether he could breathe during his restraint by four officers who had pinned him to the ground.

"To be able to ask an extremely violent male during the course of restraint a question such as that is not easy. It's not a question I heard answered or one I asked. I wasn't under the impression Mr Da Costa was choking," G15 said.

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He explained that restraining someone already in custody was easier than doing so in the street because officers had time to plan and prepare how best to respond.

A 'faint cough' coming from Edson, who was 25 when he died, was not considered to be his dying breath, the officer explained.

He added that when he handed over to the armed officers he said he saw Edson 'yawning' but agreed with the senior coroner, Nadia Persaud, when she suggested he didn't know what the yawns meant.

But the court heard that when firearms officers arrived at the scene they 'fairly quickly engaged in CPR'.

G15 was standing with Claude Greenaway and Jussara Gomes, who were with Edson on the night of the stop, metres away from the four officers trying to restrain the car trader during the stop in the Woodcocks estate.

He later approached Edson to check his condition placing his hand in front of him before feeling and hearing a cough.

G15's just said that when he was handing over to the armed officers he was still doing his checks on Edson.

"I was still assessing. The early indication was he was breathing," he said.

The inquest continues.