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Cop denies calling Kingsley Burrell 'mad, bad and dangerous'

INQUEST: Kingsley Burrell died after contact with police and NHS staff in 2011

A POLICE inspector who took the decision to section Kingsley Burrell under the Mental Health Act was asked if he had applied the racial stereotype of “mad, bad and dangerous” to a black man who he thought was delusional.

But Inspector Neil Allen, who is of African Caribbean heritage himself, told Birmingham Coroner’s Court that he would probably have done the same if Kingsley had been a white man.

At the second day of an inquest into the trainee security guard’s death in March 2011 following contact with police and NHS staff, Insp Allen was quizzed by Karon Monaghan, QC, representing Kingsley’s two former partners, on why he restrained the father-of-two in the back of an ambulance when he was not being aggressive.

She asked him if he knew what institutional racism meant, whether he had equality and diversity training and if he applied a racial stereotype to Kingsley, where there is an unsubstantiated theory that BME people with mental health issues are considered to be more dangerous.

Earlier, Kingsley had made a 999 call requesting help saying that two men had followed him into a local shop and had held a gun to his four-year-old son’s head.

But police, ambulance and fire crews who arrived found no evidence of a threat to Kingsley’s son Kayden. The shop’s CCTV footage of them in the shop, played at the inquest yesterday, showed no suggestion of any threats or weapons.

Insp Allen told the inquest that Kingsley appeared “vacant and one dimensional” when he spoke to him in the back of an ambulance where he was sitting holding Kayden’s hand following the alleged drama in the shop.

“I had the impression that something was not quite right with Kingsley,” said Insp Allen, who gave the order for him to be taken to the Oleaster mental health unit for assessment. “He looked at me but I got the impression that my words were not being absorbed. There was no nodding of the head when I talked to him.

“He kept on repeating the allegations that someone had put a gun to Kayden’s head. I felt Mr Burrell needed some additional support in relation to his well being.”

Insp Allen said he felt detaining him under the Mental Health Act was a better option than charging him with wasting police time.

When asked by Coroner Louise Hunt if he had asked Kingsley if he wanted to take Kayden out of the ambulance, Insp Allen said he could not recall doing so.

Kayden was slightly injured, receiving a graze to his nose during a brief struggle in the ambulance when officers tried to restrain Kingsley. Kayden’s mother Chantelle Graham left the court room in tears clearly upset at the evidence.

One of the two PCs who were with Insp Allen then drew a taser, but did not fire it. Kingsley was handcuffed and put on his side on the floor of the ambulance, said Insp Allen.

Monaghan asked Insp Allen why he thought it necessary to take away Kingsley’s liberty, asking him if it would have been more appropriate to contact his GP, social services or family since the police already had family contact details.

She also asked why Kingsley continued to be handcuffed in the ambulance even though he was still not showing any aggression.

Insp Allen replied: “Force had been used and it was necessary to keep them on. A change of mind is all it takes to go from passive to aggressive.”

Hugh Davies, QC, representing two West Midlands Police Officers, asked if it might have been more appropriate for Kingsley to have been managed at home by his relatives rather than being taken to a mental health unit, but Insp Allen said that course of action might have been criticised by relatives.

Kadisha Brown-Burrell asked Insp Allen if he had said to Kingsley in the ambulance: “You have been a naughty boy and you are reaping what you sow,” but Insp Allen said he had never said this.

Ms Brown-Burrell claimed that Insp Allen knew Kingsley and had got him expelled from school years earlier, but he said she was mistaken, adding: “I am not the only African Caribbean officer working in West Midlands Police.”

He had earlier stated that he had been in the police service for more than 23 years and to the best of his knowledge had had no dealings with Kingsley before that day.

The case continues.

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