Handcuffed man died after entering river to dodge Hampshire police, hears inquest

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A MAN who had been handcuffed by police died by fleeing from them and running into a river, according to an inquest.

Reece Hillier, 22, was stop-checked by police in Southampton on January 12, and handcuffed after police found a smell of cannabis coming from his vehicle.

Undated handout photo issued by Hampshire Constabulary of 22-year-old Reece Hillier. Picture: Hampshire Constabulary / PA Wire

Undated handout photo issued by Hampshire Constabulary of 22-year-old Reece Hillier. Picture: Hampshire Constabulary / PA Wire

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Once he was handcuffed, Mr Hillier overpowered the arresting police officer and ran off.

The inquest heard that the body of Mr Hillier, with handcuffs still on, was found on March 17 in the River Itchen at Woodmill Outdoor Activity.

A post-mortem showed he had cannabis and cocaine in his system.

Coroner Grahame Short recorded a verdict of accidental death and said Mr Hillier either entered the river to avoid detection by police dogs or had fallen into the water in the darkness.

He said: ‘I find that he entered the water but couldn't get out and that was at least in part due to the fact his hands were bound.’

‘I’m afraid Reece died alone, unable to get out of the water. This was a tragic outcome.

‘The reason he came to be in the river was due to his own actions. I’m desperately sorry for his family, his friends, and I wish to express my sympathies to you all.’

In a statement, his family said: ‘As Reece got older he made some poor life choices but he had a good heart. His decision to try and escape the police cost him his life and it broke all of our family's hearts.’