Donald Burgess: disabled man, 93, was Tasered by police

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An investigation has been launched after a 93-year-old disabled man was pepper-sprayed and tasered by police at a care home.

Donald Burgess died in hospital three weeks later.

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Police had attempted to arrest Mr Burgess, who was confined to a wheelchair with one leg and suffering from dementia, after caregivers were reportedly threatened with a knife.

Two officers from Sussex Police visited the home in St Leonards-on-Sea, East Sussex on June 21

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Donald Burgess, who was tasered and pepper sprayed by police three weeks before his death.

One of them used pava spray, which is similar to pepper spray, while the other used a taser. The knife was then removed by Mr Burgess and he was handcuffed.

He was taken to the hospital where he remained until his death three weeks later on July 13.

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The police station investigating the IOPC and the two officers involved, both police officers, were served with complaints of gross misconduct, with letters telling them they were being criminally investigated for manslaughter.

The IOPC says these actions will not necessarily result in disciplinary action or criminal charges.

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Cause of Mr Burgess’ death not yet known

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) is investigating whether allegations that officers used excessive force amount to criminal manslaughter after Sussex Police referred themselves to the watchdog.

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IOPC Regional Director Graham Beesley said: “I would like to extend my condolences to the man’s family and those who knew him.

“We have informed his next of kin of our independent investigation and explained the steps we will be taking.

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“This includes determining whether the force used by the two officers against this man was reasonable, necessary and proportionate to the circumstances and in accordance with local and national policies, procedures and guidelines.”

So far, the IOPC investigation has included taking witness statements, reviewing officers’ body-worn photographs and attending the autopsy on July 21. The cause of Mr Burgess’ death is not yet known.

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A Sussex Police spokesman said the investigation was still ongoing.

Deputy Chief Constable Tanya Jones of Sussex Police said: “We would like to extend our condolences to the family and friends of Mr Burgess. Our thoughts are with them at this difficult time.

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“We are providing all the support the IOPC needs to conduct a thorough investigation and give the family the answers they need.”

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