A Scots cop has been cleared of using excessive force on a teen mum who died following a car chase arrest in Aberdeen.
A Fatal Accident Inquiry has ruled that Shania Collins, 19, may not have died if she had not inhaled Butane gas while she was a passenger in a car being pursued by police on December 22, 2020.
The mum-of-one, from Peterhead, suffered a heart attack after being apprehended by PC Stephen Morrison – but Sheriff Andrew Miller said no blame could be attached to the officer’s actions.
The Sheriff’s report told how PC’s Morrison and David Robb began a pursuit of a car containing Miss Collins and driven by the father of her seven-month old baby son, Paul Wilson.
The officers were alerted by the Automatic Number Plate Recognition system, which identified the driver as being disqualified and on the road without insurance, as the traveled near Crimond in Aberdeenshire.
Following a chase of 25 minutes, Mr Wilson was caught by the two officers and passenger Miss Collins was held, following a brief struggle outside the car with PC Morrison.
Sheriff Miller wrote: ”PC Morrison gave evidence that, whilst holding her left arm as she lay on her front, he “kind of straddled” Ms Collins in order to stop her from kicking him.
“At this point, he spoke to her and said: “That was a silly thing to do.”
Ms Collins did not respond verbally, but put her right arm behind her back, which PC Morrison took as an indicating that she was giving up her struggle and waiting to be handcuffed.
“PC Morrison handcuffed Ms Collins to the rear and said “Come on, get up.” Ms Collins did not respond to this instruction.
“PC Morrison’s evidence was that he initially thought that, at this point, Ms Collins was feigning unconsciousness. He rolled her onto her side and immediately noted that her eyes were wide open, her pupils were dilated and that she appeared drowsy, though breathing.
“I thought then that she might be under the influence of drugs or some other substance. He immediately placed Ms Collins into the recovery position, removed the handcuffs from her and requested via radio that the ACR summon an ambulance.”
She died six days later in Aberdeen Royal Infirmary. The cause of death was a brain injury, brought on by the heart attack. ‘Presumed Butane abuse’ was also given as a cause.
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Sheriff Miller concluded that Miss Collins died because of her ‘own actions’, due to the combination of inhaling the gas and trying to evade PC Morrison.
The lawman added: ”There was no dispute, and I am satisfied, that PC Robb and PC Morrison acted lawfully and appropriately during the pursuit of Mr Wilson’s vehicle.
“There was no dispute, and I am satisfied, that PC Morrison acted appropriately and in the course of his lawful duty when he approached and apprehended Ms Collins at the conclusion of that pursuit.
“There was no dispute, and I am satisfied, that Ms Collins was not subjected to any inappropriate or excessive level of force or form of restraint by PC Morrison.
“There was no dispute, and I am satisfied, that the actions of the various police officers and medical personnel who assisted Ms Collins after she became unconscious on December 22, 2020 were appropriate and did not cause or contribute to her death.”
He ruled that the accident which resulted in her death would have been avoided had Miss Collins not inhaled Butane gas or, having inhaled butane gas, from running away from, attempting to strike and struggling with the Constable.