He probably fractured a rib when Sheku Bayoh fell on his arm – inquest

Professor Anthony Freemont said the type of fracture Mr Bayoh suffered was so rare that he had to consult medical literature dating back to the 1950s to look for possible causes.

He testified at the inquest on Wednesday to clarify the circumstances of Mr Bayoh’s death after he came into contact with six police officers in Kirkcaldy in May 2015.

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Prof. Freemont is an expert in osteoarticular pathology and specializes in bone disease when performing autopsies.

He said: “One of the most common causes of this very rare fracture is a fall onto an outstretched arm.

“This is where the forces are transmitted down the arm into the shoulder and then into all of these ancillary structures up to the first rib and can cause it to fracture.”

“It only affects that rib because of the way that rib connects to all these supporting structures around it (like muscles and tendons).”

“A blow to the shoulder can transfer energy just as much as a fall to the arm.

“However, it would result in fairly pronounced soft-tissue injury, such as bruising or other traces of the cause.”

Prof Freemont said it was highly unlikely that the fracture was the result of a baton blow after the inquest’s lead counsel, Angela Grahame KC, asked him if it was likely.

He said: “I’m not an expert on police batons, I don’t know how heavy they are.

“I can’t imagine how a long, rod-like structure could have caused this fracture without damaging other tissues.”

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Also, no incident was reported that would result in injuries attributable to direct external trauma — such as being struck by a baton — nor was there any soft-tissue damage to suggest so, the investigation said.

Prof Freemont also estimated the fracture was sustained between two and six hours before Mr Bayoh’s death, but most likely occurred during his May 3 call with police.

Mr Bayoh, a trainee gas engineer, died after being detained by about six police officers who were called to Hayfield Road in the city of Fife on May 3, 2015 after reports of his erratic behavior were reported.

The inquest is looking into the circumstances of the 31-year-old’s death and whether race was a factor.

The inquiry is taking place before Lord Bracadale in Edinburgh and is continuing.

Grace Reader

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