LIBERTY this week asked the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) to determine if Christopher Alder’s death in police custody has been properly investigated and if he suffered inhuman and degrading treatment at the hands of the police.
The ECHR will hear that no one has been held accountable for Alder’s death, due to the initial investigators destroying blood samples, the police officers’ clothing and Alder’s clothing without testing them, which compromised subsequent investigations.
Liberty will argue that the officers’ treatment of Alder was in part caused by discrimination against him on grounds of his race.
Alex Gask, Liberty’s Legal Officer leading the case, said: ‘Despite damning CCTV footage of police officers chatting, joking and seeking to justify his arrest while Christopher choked to death in front of them, no one has been held accountable.
‘This horrific injustice casts a shadow over the entire British legal system.’
In March 2006, the Independent Police Complaints Commission concluded that, despite flaws in the initial investigation’ into Alder’s death, ‘quite obvious neglect of duty’ and their finding of ‘unwitting racism’, no further action could be taken against the police.
Five Humberside police officers were cleared of manslaughter and misconduct charges in 2002, and cleared of disciplinary offences in 2003.
Alder had been admitted to hospital for treatment of head and facial injuries, but was then arrested by police at the hospital to prevent breach of the peace.
He was then dragged by his arms, unconscious, along the floor of Queen’s Garden Police Station and laid face-down with his hands still handcuffed behind his back.
He was bleeding from the mouth, his trousers had come down to his knees so that his genitalia were exposed, and he was double-incontinent, thus his naked body and clothes were soiled with his own excrement and urine.
None of the police officers who were standing nearby made any attempt to assist him in any way.
Instead, they constructed an account of his behaviour which would justify his arrest and engaged in casual banter.
They said that he was play acting and made derogatory comments about him such as he was ‘mentally disabled’, and ‘an arsehole’.
Christopher’s sister Janet Alder said: ‘Nearly ten years after his death we are still seeking the truth about why Christopher died alone and in pain in that station. I will not give up until we have justice for my brother.’