Police acted appropriately in case of man who died after arrest, watchdog finds

Lincolnshire Police made a mandatory referral to the IOPC after the man’s death (Nick Potts/PA)
Lincolnshire Police made a mandatory referral to the IOPC after the man’s death (Nick Potts/PA)

The police watchdog has said that officers acted appropriately during the arrest and detention of a man who died after collapsing in custody.

Jaroslaw Kawala, 51, was arrested on suspicion of drink-driving after his HGV left the A1 and went through a hedgerow in Colsterworth, Lincolnshire, at around 3:45pm on December 21 last year.

He was taken to Grantham Police Station by Lincolnshire Police but collapsed at around 5:30pm in the custody booking-in area. He died at Nottingham’s Queen’s Medical Centre at around 8:40pm that evening.

The force made a mandatory referral to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), which said on Friday that officers had acted appropriately after a post-mortem examination found that Mr Kawala had died from an abdominal haemorrhage and alcohol intoxication.

The IOPC said that officers observed only minimal damage to the HGV at the time of the crash, the airbags had not deployed, and Mr Kawala had no visible injuries, adding that officers “correctly exercised” their powers to arrest him.

It said: “Sadly, Mr Kawala had a medical episode shortly after arrival at custody. We found officers responded promptly to call an ambulance, provide first aid and request a healthcare professional, in line with their training and guidance for medical emergencies.

“Mr Kawala is believed to have sustained the abdominal injury as a result of his stomach impacting the steering wheel during the collision, prior to the arrival of police officers.

“Our investigation found that officers could not have known Mr Kawala had suffered an intra-abdominal bleed in the accident, as this would have only become apparent from specialist medical testing and expertise.”

An inquest concluded on Friday that Mr Kawala died as a result of a road traffic accident.

IOPC regional director Derrick Campbell said: “I would again express my condolences to Mr Kawala’s family at this difficult time.

“At the end of our investigation in June this year, we found no evidence that police had contributed in any way to Mr Kawala’s death.

“We found that officers had acted in accordance with policy and procedures both at the accident scene and during his brief detention.”