Death of Blackpool man in police custody caught on tape

The death of a man in police custody was caught on tape – with the footage likely to play a key part in an ongoing investigation.

Tuesday, 18th May 2021, 3:45 pm
Updated Wednesday, 19th May 2021, 9:31 am

Dad-of-five Ronald Robinson, 56, was driving a hire car when he was pulled over in Knowle Avenue, North Shore, in March.

Officers claimed he put a “small ball-shaped item into his mouth before he was arrested”, the Independent Office for Public Conduct (IOPC) said.

He collapsed in the street shortly after.

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Ronald Robinson, who died in police custody in March (Picture: Robinson family)

And the moment was captured by cameras worn on the chest of officers at the scene, as well as one mounted to their vehicle, The Gazette learned.

Unlike in the States, however, where clips are routinely released to the public in the name of transparency, the video may only come out during the inquest into Mr Robinson’s death – and may never see the light of day.

It comes after Mr Robinson’s family drafted in lawyers in their quest for answers over what happened – with his sister-in-law Judy Robinson, an ex-guns cop with the Met Police, describing a number of injuries on his body.

She said: “He had cuts to his chin that needed stitches, skin missing off his forehead, cuts on his ears, and a large wound on the back of his head.

"He had gashes by his ears, his neck was black and blue, and skin was missing off his fingers.”

Those wounds, while still unofficially explained, did not play a part in Mr Robinson’s death and may have resulted from a struggle during the arrest, one source said.

Investigators were awaiting a final report from the pathologist, held-up by tests for drugs in Mr Robinson’s system.

Two officers arrested the former tram driver, who had been in rehab for a drug addiction and lived on the Prom, with a third arriving to help give CPR.

All three were being treated as witnesses and not suspects, with the IOPC, which is expected to wrap up its probe at some point over the summer, investigating the circumstances rather than their individual conduct.

“We have spoken to a number of witnesses and obtained statements from the officers who were present,” a spokesman said previously.

Family lawyer Jade Brown said “conflicting accounts” had been given about Mr Robinson’s death.

Lancashire Police refused to comment.

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