Sister of Blackpool man Ronald Robinson says official version of events 'does not add up' as police officers are cleared over his death in custody
A jury will rule on the death of a Blackpool man in police custody, his sister said as she continued to question the official version of events.
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 Police Conduct (IOPC) said.
He collapsed in the street shortly after and died at Blackpool Victoria Hospital, with the IOPC, which oversees the police complaints system in England, investigating before clearing the arresting officers of any wrongdoing.
Mr Robinson’s sister, Mandy Robinson, from Luton, said: “It does not add up. None of it - how he died, and how he got all those injuries from getting out of the car.
“My brother should still be here.”
Mr Robinson’s death was caught on cameras worn on the chest of officers at the scene, as well as one mounted to their vehicle.
Unlike in the States, 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.
Mandy added: “It will be hard for me to see my brother in the footage.”
Mr Robinson’s family described a number of injuries on his body.
Those wounds, while still officially unexplained, did not play a part in Mr Robinson’s death and may have resulted from a struggle during the arrest, one source close to the investigation said.
Two officers arrested the former tram driver, who had been in rehab for a drug problem and lived on the Prom, with a third arriving to help give CPR.
All three were treated as witnesses and not suspects, with the IOPC probing the circumstances rather than their individual conduct.
“We obtained dash-cam [footage] from a police vehicle and body-worn video footage of the incident, as well as toxicology and forensic reports and statements from the officers involved in restraining Mr Robinson prior to him becoming unresponsive,” a spokesman for the IOPC, which sent specialist investigators to the street to quiz witnesses and gather evidence, said in a statement.
“The actions and decisions of the officers … were analysed in accordance with the relevant policies, procedures, and training.
“During the investigation there was no indication any police officer may have behaved in a manner that would justify the bringing of disciplinary proceedings or committed a criminal offence.
“Our findings have been shared with the coroner and will help to inform Mr Robinson’s inquest, which we hope will help his family get answers to their questions surrounding this tragic incident.”
Family lawyer Jade Brown said “conflicting accounts” had been given about Mr Robinson’s death.
She added: “The family are particularly concerned about the restraint used by the officers during the road traffic stop and the medical care that was rendered - or lack thereof.”
Christine Howarth, 69, of Knowle Avenue, said she saw a police car and presumed somebody was being “told off for breaking lockdown rules”.
“I didn’t realise someone had died,” she said.
And Geoff Forshaw, 59, of nearby Argyll Road, added: “At first it was just the police and then more sirens coming.
“All of a sudden it was like something off the TV.
“We found out a man had died when police came to make their enquiries.”
Lancashire Police was asked a number of questions, including whether the officers involved were back on duty and what the “small ball-shaped item” was, but did not answer them.
The force said: "First and foremost our sincere condolences and thoughts remain with Mr Robinson's family.
"The IOPC has conducted its investigation and the coronial process needs to take place, which we will cooperate with fully.
"Due to these proceedings it would be inappropriate to comment any further at this time."
Inquests are held to determine exactly how and why somebody died.
Most are concluded by a coroner but Mandy said a jury will be selected for her brother’s hearing, which has been scheduled for next June.
Blackpool Coroners’ Court said: "We can confirm the matter will be returned to court in January for a pre-inquest review on a date to be confirmed, and that the final inquest is expected to take place in the week of June 20, although this will be discussed at the hearing in January."
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