Luke Rhoden inquest: ‘I told them they were killing him’

Luke Rhoden
Luke Rhoden

A doctor pleaded with police to stop holding a baton to Luke Rhoden’s neck in the minutes before his death, an inquest has heard.

Dr Santiago Akoskin, who flew over from Spain to give evidence at Bolton Coroners’ Court, was called by the hotel, Ibiza Rocks, where the 25-year-old was staying, and told they were having problems with someone who had taken drugs.

I told them they were killing him, you have to stop it. I said to the police they were asphyxiating him.

Dr Santiago Akoskin

When Dr Akoskin arrived at the scene, Mr Rhoden was on the street outside and two police officers were struggling to restrain him.

He said Mr Rhoden was kicking out at police officers but calmed down when he approached him.

He said: “When I was speaking to him, he was relaxed and quiet but with the police he was again aggressive. He wanted to escape, he was fighting for his life.

“I told him he needed to calm down or the police would get more violent. I offered to give him something and he accepted.

“I injected 15 milligrammes of diazepam into his leg to calm him down.

“While the drugs were working the police officer held a baton across the man’s neck. I told them they were killing him, you have to stop it. I said to the police they were asphyxiating him.

“I told him he was a patient not a delinquent. But the officer told me he knew what he was doing.”

He told the court that he told the officer to stop three times but was told the same thing each time and Mr Rhoden became more subdued.

The officers stopped restraining Mr Rhoden just before the ambulance arrived.

He said: “When they put the heart monitor on his heart rate was low but I think it was already too late. It dropped to nothing and they tried to resuscitate him.”

He explained they were using a plastic baton at first but that it appeared to be flexible to him so they changed it for a stronger one.

Dr Akoskin said he was called to the hotel two or three times a day, often to deal with patients who had taken too many drugs, and that he believed Mr Rhoden shouldn’t have died.

He said: “I was very disappointed and very angry because someone in this condition shouldn’t die, especially as he was so strong.”

He said sometimes people had died from drugs if they didn’t know what was in them but there was no reason to die from taking cocaine.

The court was shown five videos, the first of which showed Mr Rhoden climbing along a canopy before sliding off and falling between one-and-a-half and two storeys high.

The other videos showed the struggle between Mr Rhoden, two Guardia Civil officers, a security guard from the hotel and another unidentified man all recorded on mobile phones by onlookers on the street.

Det Insp Matthew Moore, from Greater Manchester Police, told the court it appeared in one video that one of the police officers had his baton and was using it to apply pressure to Mr Rhoden.

He said: “It appears he is using his baton to apply pressure to the top half of Luke, either to his chest, head or neck. This is on the balance of probabilities. Luke is motionless at this point. His head is on the kerb and his body in the road.”

He explained they had requested details of the investigation into Mr Rhoden’s death from the Spanish police through Interpol but had heard nothing back. They were able to obtain court papers, including results of a post-mortem examination carried out in Spain.

It concluded that Mr Rhoden’s death was a violent accidental death with the immediate cause of death being acute pulmonary oedema second to cardiac arrhythmia, contributed to by toxic psychosis and an adverse reaction to drugs.

The inquest continues.

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