Suspect died after being ‘choked’
Guardian Senior Reporter
Published: May 09, 2013
Four officers emerged unhurt after a struggle with a “violent” suspect who died in police custody, a coroner’s jury learned yesterday.
Jamie Smith, 35, died after the officers, with a combined weight of over 800 pounds, struggled to subdue him, evidence revealed.
A pathologist has determined that Smith died from asphyxia (lack of oxygen).
Three of those officers, Corporal Sterling Knowles, Inspector Ezra Maycock and Sergeant Keno Smith, gave almost identical accounts of the struggle that occurred in Maycock’s office at the Central Detective Unit on February 8, about 12 hours after Smith’s arrest.
Corporal Brian Roache, the officer who they say placed Smith in a chokehold, is expected to testify today.
Officers Smith and Maycock claimed that the deceased was cooperative when he confessed to the attempted armed robbery of an ICS armored truck and possession of a firearm to endanger the lives of three guards.
They claimed the suspect, who told arresting officers his name was Matthew Jacob Pratt, suddenly became aggressive and attempted to escape when Maycock told Smith to fingerprint him to determine his identity.
Maycock said he grabbed the suspect around the waist, but the “beastly violent” man threw him against a wall.
However, under cross-examination by Raymond Rolle, Maycock admitted that the impact was not sufficient to dislodge a calendar from the wall.
Officer Smith said that he tried to grab the suspect’s legs as he was kicking violently and punching.
Maycock said he shouted for someone in the office to get some cuffs.
Officer Roache came to their aid and placed the suspect in a chokehold for about three to five minutes, the officers testified.
Despite this, Smith continued fighting violently until Knowles arrived with a pair of handcuffs and leg irons.
Officer Smith said he and Knowles were eventually able to cuff the suspect and shackle him.
At one point during the struggle, Maycock, Knowles and Roache fell over a chair, the officers testified. However, Roache still had his hand around the suspect’s neck.
After the suspect was subdued, the officers said he sat against a chair on the floor.
He placed his hands over his face and said, “I ain’t going to jail.”
The inquest continues before the Coroner Jeanine Weech-Gomez today.
Raymond Rolle and Christina Galanos represent the suspect’s family.
Wayne Munroe appears for the officers.
The inquest does not determine guilt but criminal charges can come after a review of evidence gathered.