Mystery surrounds death of man who died hours after custody release

Doctors fail to solve mystery of why man, 24, died hours after release from custody – sparking police misconduct probe and BLM protests – as watchdog says there’s ‘no evidence’ he was Tasered

  • Mohamud Hassan was arrested in January after disturbance at his Cardiff home
  • At police custody, he reportedly complained of being in pain and suffering a fit
  • Mohamud was released without charge but found dead at his home the next day 
  • A post-mortem has failed to establish Mr Hassan’s cause of death, inquest heard

The death of a 24-year-old man hours after his release from police custody remains a mystery today after a post-mortem failed to establish how he died.  

Mohamud Hassan was found dead at his home on January 9 just hours after he was released from Cardiff Bay police station without charge.

An Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) probe said there was ‘no evidence’ he was Tasered when he was arrested at his flat on the evening of January 8 on suspicion of a breach of the peace.

Mr Hassan’s family claim he was assaulted while in custody and Black Lives Matter (BLM) demonstrations were held outside the police station in January.  

Last month, the IOPC said it was investigating whether a police officer failed to relay Mr Hassan’s complaints of having a fit and being in pain to custody staff.  

Mohamud Hassan (pictured) was arrested in January after a disturbance at his home in Cardiff. He was taken into custody but was later released without charge before he was found dead at home

The coroner’s court in Pontypridd was told that his cause of death, following a post-mortem by pathologist Dr Deryk James, had been given as ‘unascertained’.

Coroner Graeme Hughes said: ‘Given that Dr James has indicated in his most recent report that he is unable to advance a medical cause of death at this time, it falls upon me to conduct an investigation into the circumstances surrounding Mr Hassan’s death, and then conclude that investigation by way of an inquest.’ 

Earlier this week the IOPC revealed police were called to a flat because five men were allegedly fighting five occupants of the property.

It said: ‘The officers’ body worn video footage shows that on arrival a number of the occupants had injuries, and officers sought explanations about where the injuries came from.

‘From a search of the flat, reviewing footage, officer accounts, pathology information, and an audit trail of Taser use within the South Wales Police force area we requested, there is no evidence to suggest that Mr Hassan was Tasered at any stage either prior to or during his detention.’ 

In February, the matter was referred by South Wales Police to the IOPC for an independent investigation.

Campaigners’ calls for CCTV and police bodycam footage to be made public have been refused in case they are needed for potential criminal, misconduct, or inquest proceedings.

The IOPC previously said in a statement an officer who attended Mr Hassan’s home and accompanied him to custody in a police van had been served a misconduct notice.

Multiple protests and demonstrations took place outside Cardiff Bay police station in the days after Mr Hassan’s death following his arrest by police officers in January this year

The spokesperson said: ‘The officer attended the Newport Road, Cardiff, address on January 8 and accompanied Mr Hassan to Cardiff Bay custody unit in the rear of a police van.

‘During this time period, Mr Hassan was heard on body worn camera to complain of having a fit, suffering a migraine, and displayed signs of experiencing pain.

‘The misconduct notice relates to this information potentially not being passed to custody staff in charge of Mr Hassan’s welfare.’

The spokesperson said the misconduct notice ‘does not necessarily mean an officer has committed any wrongdoing’ but that an officer’s conduct was being investigated.

The most serious sanction that can be imposed if an officer is found to have breached professional standards at misconduct level is a written warning.

Pictured: A woman holds a sign during a candlelight vigil for Mr Hassan outside Cardiff Bay police station on February 9 as public called for footage to be released

IOPC director for Wales, Catrin Evans said: ‘There is much more work to do to complete our investigation and our investigators continue to gather and review evidence to help us establish the events leading up to Mr Hassan’s death. 

‘We need to ensure we have spoken to anyone who may possibly have useful information to help us build a picture of what happened.

‘We have concentrated on the footage from police body worn video and from CCTV at the custody suite which covers the time Mr Hassan spent there and his release from the police station. 

‘As our review of this material nears completion, we intend to move on to scrutinise street and private footage which has been secured, which we hope will assist in identifying Mr Hassan’s movements following his release from custody, and may open up further lines of enquiry.

‘An investigation like this does take time and we would ask people to be patient while the investigation runs its course.’

Lawyer Hilary Brown, who is representing Mr Hassan’s family, said the family were ‘hugely distressed’ to hear that he had been in pain or was injured during his time in custody.

Ms Brown said: ‘We don’t know the source of those injuries.

Pictured: Protesters made their way from Cardiff city centre to the police station in January

‘But conveying that to a police officer, who should have then highlighted this to a custody sergeant, one thinks that if that had been done then maybe medical attention would have been sought for him.

‘I can’t see how they say this could lead to misconduct. This is gross misconduct that is so serious it could have contributed to the loss of somebody’s life.’

She said the family had called for the immediate suspension of the officer involved, and that a potential written warning ‘in no way reflects the seriousness of the negligence’.

Ms Brown added that Mr Hassan had no prior history of suffering from fits.

A statement from South Wales Police said: ‘The force continues to fully co-operate with the IOPC investigation and is providing them with information and material, including CCTV footage and body-worn video.

‘We acknowledge the impact Mr Hassan’s death has had on his family, friends and the wider community. Our thoughts and condolences continue to be with them.’

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