A CORONER has criticised police after a young man leapt to his death while being chased by officers.
Jason Grant – also known as Jason Macdonald – was so terrified he was going to be arrested that he took a fatal dive from a second-storey window.
Police knew the 24-year-old suffered from paranoid delusions that they were trying to kill him – but their control room did not tell the pursuing officers. Control staff did tell officers that Mr Grant had a history of resisting arrest.
Now his mum is planning to take Hampshire Constabulary to court over the handling of the case.
An inquest heard that he ran away from police on May 16 last year after being stopped in Victoria Road North, Southsea, for riding his bike on the pavement.
When officers tracked him down to a flat in Grove Road North, Southsea, he opened a window and jumped to his death in front of his mum and three siblings.
Portsmouth and South East Hampshire Coroner, David Horsley, said that if they had been made aware of Mr Grant’s history of mental illness his death could have been prevented.
He said: ‘It should be mandatory that information like this is passed on to officers, regardless of why they want to speak to someone.
‘Because if it is, in future maybe we can avoid another tragedy like this.
‘It is not fair to leave it up to the judgement of the control room operator, as it was in this case.
‘Officers were lacking vital information and I don’t think that situation should be allowed to exist.’
He said he would write to police and ask them to change their control room procedure for sharing information about mentally-ill people.
Mr Grant’s mother, Jacqueline Macdonald, said she was grateful for the coroner’s comments and thought the police had got it badly wrong.
‘I feel like they drove my son to his death,’ said the 46-year-old. ‘Why did officers pursue a man riding a push bike on the pavement on a quiet Sunday morning? Didn’t they have anything better to do?
‘Jason had a phobia about the police and he was absolutely petrified when he came to us that day.
‘I’m glad that the coroner will be writing to them, because then at least some good can come out of this.
‘But I still intend to sue them for the heavy-handed way they dealt with my son.’
Mr Horsley recorded a verdict of accidental death, and said: ‘I don’t think he jumped out of that window with the intention of taking his own life – he just wanted to get away.’
Speaking in a statement, Detective Inspector Nick Plummer, of the police’s professional standards department, said: ‘This was an extremely sad and tragic case which, in line with normal procedures for a death following police contact, we referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC). The IPCC reviewed the case and took the decision to refer it back to us to conduct our own detailed and thorough investigation.
‘The actions of the officers who had contact with Jason on May 16 last year, were proportionate and in-keeping with usual policing activity. Subsequent events sadly had extremely tragic consequences which had a devastating effect on his family and the wider local community. The constabulary has robust procedures in place for sharing information between officers and staff about vulnerable people who may have mental health concerns.
‘As an organisation we are always looking to improve our service and learn lessons where they arise and we await the coroner’s letter of recommendations.’
Timeline: How the tragedy unfolded
· 11am: Mr Grant is stopped by patrol officers for riding his bicycle along Albert Road’s pavement.
· He gives PC Darren Willis a fake name, and the officer described him as appearing intoxicated – although a postmortem later proved he was sober.
· PC Willis takes hold of his shoulders to arrest him – and Mr Grant struggles free from his T-shirt and runs off up Victoria Road North. He arrives at his mother’s flat in Grove Road North.
· 11.30am: The officers find Mr Grant’s passport and bank card discarded in a bush and request information about his current and previous addresses.
· Due to confusion in the police control room, operator David Daniels thinks the officers are only trying to return lost property – and does not tell them he is terrified of the police.
· 12.35am: Two officers and a PCSO drive to his mother’s address. Mr Daniels calls Jacqueline Macdonald to ask if she can let them in, but she stalls and makes excuses.
· Spotting the officers outside, Mr Grant begins to panic and opens a large window.
· Stunned bystanders watch as he climbs on to the window sill and dives headfirst into the courtyard.