NEWS
08/06/2020 21:53 BST | Updated 08/06/2020 21:55 BST

Investigation Launched After Black Man Dies In UK Police Custody

Simeon Francis, 35, was found unresponsive in his cell at Torquay police station.

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Simeon Francis

A police watchdog investigation is under way after a Black man died in custody.

Simeon Francis, 35, was found unresponsive in his cell at Torquay police station on May 20, and later pronounced dead.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) said Francis was arrested at around 1am that day on Cowley Bridge Road in Exeter.

He was transported by police van to Torquay police station, where he was booked into custody at around 3am.

IOPC regional director Catrin Evans said the watchdog had received a mandatory referral from Devon and Cornwall Police following Francis’s death.

“Our thoughts are with Mr Francis’ family and friends following his death,” she said.

“We will be keeping his family updated during the course of our independent investigation.

“Our investigators have begun gathering evidence and statements from officers.

“We are analysing a considerable amount of CCTV footage from the custody suite.

“We are looking at the level of care provided during the period of detention, including the frequency and adequacy of checks carried out.”

An inquest into Francis’s death was opened and adjourned last week by the Plymouth Coroner.

The IOPC said a preliminary post-mortem examination had taken place, but has not identified a cause of death and further tests will be carried out.

This comes as Black Lives Matter protests are taking place across the UK after George Floyd, a Black American man, was killed by police officers.

Thousands of campaigners have been taking to the streets to demand an end to anti-Black racism.