A police officer was “not interested” in hearing the views of the care team of a relapsing schizophrenic man, who later died after being restrained, an inquest heard.  

Kevin Clarke, 35, a Black man who suffered from paranoid schizophrenia, was restrained by police on March 9, 2018 after an incident in the Polsted Road area of Catford. 

He “became unwell” and was sent to Lewisham Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.   

The inquest into his death at Southwark Coroners Court is investigating whether the actions of police contributed to or caused his death.    

At the time of his death, he had been staying at the Jigsaw Project, assisted living in Catford, for two years.   

The inquest heard that since he was 17, Kevin suffered frequent mental health crises and would attend a psychiatric hospital for treatment.   

It heard Kevin was dependent on cannabis and had a history of violent episodes when he was ill, but when he complied with taking his medication and was doing well, he was “sociable” and “stable”.  

The inquest heard that on March 9, after becoming concerned that his mental health was deteriorating, Kevin’s care team at Jigsaw rang the police, with the hope that they would section him. 

When two officers arrived and spoke to Kevin, they decided he was not “high risk enough”.

Senior coroner Andrew Harris questioned the manager of Jigsaw on Wednesday (September 9) as to why his care team was not present when police did their assessment, which she admitted would have been “helpful”.  

On Thursday, the inquest played a recording of body cam-footage, during which PC Charlotte Scudder could be heard saying his team was “concerned” about him and asking him if he was cold.  

Kevin said he was “just chilling”, and the officers concluded he was “not showing risk to himself or any members of the public”.  

They returned to the Jigsaw office alone.

PC Scudder told workers: “He was surprisingly quite responsive to us, he actually had a conversation and he said he’s happy, he’s just chilling. 

She added: “In my eyes for a (Section) 136, there’s not enough. I appreciate what you’re telling me, I’m not disregarding what you’re telling me, you’re the professional.” 

PC Scudder advised the team to escalate the issue if Kevin got worse, and “if he becomes violent, lock yourself in”. 

The inquest previously heard that the team was “disappointed” the police didn’t take Kevin away, though they didn’t say anything.  

On Friday (September 11), PC Scudder, who told the inquest she had attended a “fair few” similar incidents, was questioned about her assessment of Kevin. 

Mr Harris said: “It seemed to me that […] there were no gaps in which he had an opportunity to think or construct a reply. 

“I’m going to suggest to you that you, at no time in the interview, gave him any chance to say anything […] because it happened very quickly,” he said.  

The officer said it was a “fair judgement” and that “unfortunately, as a police officer [brief responses are] something that you become quite used to”. 

She said she believed that from his non-verbal communications “that he was OK”.  

Going over the interaction, PC Scudder had in Jigsaw’s office after speaking with Kevin, Mr Harris said he didn’t “see any contribution from members of staff”.  

The officer said “at no point was [her] decision challenged”. 

But the coroner said that PC Scudder was “on transmit, not receive”. 

“You’re transmitting to the staff in Jigsaw, you’re asserting your views. 

“You’re not interested in receiving any views from them, are you?” he said.  

PC Scudder said that was “incorrect”, but later said in future she would ask more questions.  

She denied that more information on his past, such as violent incidents and the fact his mental condition could deteriorate very quickly, would have made a difference to how they dealt with Kevin. 

She earlier said that “all the information is better” but that “it doesn’t necessarily have an overall impact on the decision that is made, given what officers are presented with at that time”.  

“We can’t judge people based on the past. We have to make a decision based on what is presented to us at that time. 

“For example, if someone had been arrested for robbery 18 times, that doesn’t mean that he’s committed that robbery at that time,” she said.  

However, she said if his care team had told her they weren’t happy with the decision not to section him, she would have tried to find Kevin. 

“In that circumstance if someone is unhappy with the decision made, and quite commonly people are, I would have been more than happy to take a member or members of staff to try and locate Kevin so that they could have a similar conversation […]” she said.  

The coroner asked PC Scudder if the “tragic incident” had made any difference to how she “personally” conducts herself.  

Tearfully, the officer said: “This particular situation with Mr Clarke is incredibly heartbreaking. 

“It’s something that I think about every single day.” 

PC Scudder took a break after becoming upset.  

On return she said: “In a situation like this, I believe it would be recommended to take a staff member with us at that time when trying to communicate with Mr Clarke. 

“In my eyes, they are the professionals, and they maybe would be able to ask questions […] that may have changed the outcome of the situation.” 

She said she would “pause and give people the opportunity to talk” and she would “ask more questions and not have the view that the [health professionals] would tell me what’s necessary”. 

The inquest continues.