17 April 2014 - A report by the Independent Police Conduct Authority on the death of Adam Palmer while in Police custody found the actions of Police were justified during the arrest. The report also found that Police took all possible steps to try and resuscitate Mr Palmer once his condition became apparent.
Mr Palmer died shortly after midnight on 15 August 2012 at his former partner’s house in Hamilton following an altercation with Luke Sheppard. Mr Sheppard was visiting the house when Mr Palmer, who was trespassed from the address, arrived. Mr Palmer was heavily intoxicated and refused to leave when asked. When Mr Sheppard attempted to guide Mr Palmer outside, Mr Palmer reacted violently and a fight ensued. Mr Palmer’s former partner then telephoned Police requesting assistance. On arrival at the house an officer found both men in the hallway, and Mr Sheppard restraining Mr Palmer in a headlock. The officer placed Mr Palmer in handcuffs and arrested him for trespassing. A short time later, Mr Palmer began making noises suggesting that he was going to vomit. Around the same time a second officer arrived at the scene and Police placed Mr Palmer in a supported sitting position. When the officers attempted to move Mr Palmer outside he was unresponsive and could not support his own body weight. The officers laid Mr Palmer back on the floor while they waited for backup to arrive. A few minutes later one of the officers noticed Mr Palmer’s lips and fingertips had turned blue. Police then removed Mr Palmer’s handcuffs, checked for a pulse and called an Ambulance. Police and Mr Palmer’s former partner’s mother, who was a registered nurse, found a weak pulse and placed Mr Palmer in the recovery position. Once the ambulance officers arrived, they were unable to detect a heartbeat and CPR was commenced, however Mr Palmer was pronounced dead at the scene 15-minutes later. Mr Sheppard was charged with manslaughter in relation to the incident and is currently awaiting trial.
In releasing today’s report Independent Police Conduct Authority Chair, Judge Sir David Carruthers, said Mr Palmer’s arrest and the use of handcuffs by Police were justified in the circumstances.
“Mr Palmer had been engaged in a sustained period of fighting with Mr Sheppard and was heavily intoxicated, trespassing and refusing to leave the property. From previous experience Police believed that Mr Palmer may attempt to escape if given the opportunity,” Sir David said.
“Police were concerned for the safety of all of those involved and therefore believed it was necessary to handcuff Mr Palmer given the violent situation.
“As soon as it became obvious that Mr Palmer was having trouble breathing Police took appropriate and timely action including immediately removing the handcuffs, sitting Mr Palmer up against an officer’s legs, placing Mr Palmer in the recovery position and checking for a pulse.
“Police responded the best they could in a very difficult situation,” Sir David said.