Lincolnshire Police officers acted appropriately during detention of man at Grantham who later died

Published: 24 Nov 2023

An Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) investigation has found Lincolnshire Police officers acted appropriately during the arrest and detention of a man who died in hospital soon after collapsing while in custody at Grantham. 

Jaroslaw Kawala, aged 51, was driving a heavy goods vehicle which left the carriageway on the A1 at Colsterworth and ploughed through a hedgerow before coming to rest in a field at around 3.45pm on 21 December 2022. Police officers attended and arrested him on suspicion of driving with excess alcohol.

Mr Kawala was then taken to Grantham Police Station where his detention was authorised at shortly after 5pm. About half an hour later he collapsed in the custody booking in area and was provided with basic first aid by officers and a health care professional while an ambulance was requested. An ambulance took him to the Queens Medical Centre, Nottingham, but sadly he was pronounced dead there at about 8.40 that evening.

We began an independent investigation the day after following a mandatory referral from Lincolnshire Police. All police officers were treated as witnesses during our investigation.  

At an inquest in Lincoln which ended today (Friday) the Coroner returned an outcome that Mr Kawala died as a result of a road traffic accident. 

When officers arrived at the incident scene they observed only minimal damage to the HGV exterior, the air bags had not deployed, and Mr Kawala had no visible injuries. Officers stated that they asked Mr Kawala if he had any injuries and he replied not. Mr Kawala was able to exit the vehicle and walk to the police van unassisted. He gave a positive breath test for alcohol and officers correctly exercised their powers to arrest him for drink driving. 

Sadly, Mr Kawala had a medical episode shortly after arrival at custody. We found officers responded promptly to call an ambulance, provide first aid and request a health care professional, in line with their training and guidance for medical emergencies. 

A post-mortem later found Mr Kawala’s medical cause of death to be due to an abdominal haemorrhage sustained in a road traffic collision, and alcohol intoxication. Mr Kawala is believed to have sustained the abdominal injury as a result of his stomach impacting the steering wheel during the collision, prior to the arrival of police officers. Our investigation found that officers could not have known Mr Kawala had suffered an intra-abdominal bleed in the accident, as this would have only become apparent from specialist medical testing and expertise. 

IOPC regional director, Derrick Campbell, said: “I would again express my condolences to Mr Kawala’s family at this difficult time. At the end of our investigation in June this year, we found no evidence that police had contributed in any way to Mr Kawala’s death. We found that officers had acted in accordance with policy and procedures both at the accident scene and during his brief detention.” 

During the investigation IOPC investigators reviewed dash camera footage from a vehicle travelling behind the HGV prior to the collision along with CCTV footage from the custody suite. We examined accounts provided by the relevant police officers, the ambulance service, and from an independent witness. The investigation also referred to the report completed following the post-mortem examination. 

  • Lincolnshire Police
  • Custody and detention