Police ‘Mocked’ an Asthmatic Black Man With Fatal Chest Pains

  • An asthmatic Black man died during an arrest after police officers derided his complaints of chest pains. 
  • Ian Taylor told London police, “I’m going to die,” and an officer said it’s a “load of nonsense.”
  • Taylor died hours later, and the officer has not apologized to Taylor’s family. 

A new report has shown that an asthmatic Black man died during an arrest after police officers dismissed his complaints of chest pains as “nonsense.”

A recently published coroner’s prevention of future deaths report describes how Ian McDonald-Taylor, 54, was arrested by police in Brixton, south London, on June 29, 2019, after a “physical altercation.”

Police arrest McDonald-Taylor and handcuffed him as he lay on the sidewalk. He soon began complaining of chest pains and difficulty breathing.

McDonald-Taylor, who was known to have severe asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, repeated phrases to officers, recorded on Body-worn footage, such as “I’m fading” and “I’m going to die. Stand me up now.” said the report.

It said that a police constable, whose name was redacted, radio-ed a sergeant and said, “he’s currently on the floor playing the whole poor me poor me; he’s going to have to go to the hospital though as a matter of course,” and later said, “He’s saying he has chest pains he can’t breathe blah blah; it’s a load of nonsense, but there we go.” 

Moments after this interaction, McDonald-Taylor went into cardiac arrest and died at a local hospital a few hours later. 

His cause of death was recorded as cardiac arrest, acute asthmasituational stress, heart disease, and dehydration.

Senior Coroner Andrew Harris’ report said that the anonymous officer “could not bring himself to apologize to the family.” 

At the inquest for McDonald-Taylor’s death, his cousin, Michael Cooper, said: “Watching the video footage of Ian fighting for breath and desperately pleading for help, but being dismissed and even mocked by police officers, is utterly devastating.”  According to local news outlet MyLondon

“The police are trained to deal with situations like this, yet they did not do what anyone else would have done and drive him to a hospital that was three minutes away,” Cooper said. 

“How many more deaths will it take before the police take seriously a Black man who says he can’t breathe?”

The Independent Office for Police Conduct has said that the police officer did not behave “in a manner that would justify the bringing of disciplinary proceedings.”