coroner lets GMP off over police pursuit death

  • Post last modified:March 27, 2024
  • Reading time:6 mins read

The family of Black teenager Ronaldo Johnson, killed by Greater Manchester Police (GMP) due to a police pursuit, have hit out after a coroner failed to even mention the chase in his ruling. They’re also supporting a campaign calling for an end to police pursuits.

Ronaldo Johnson: killed by GMP

Ronaldo Johnson, affectionately known as Ron, was a 17-year-old Black teenager. He died on 6 April 2021 when a car crashed following a police chase in Manchester in the early hours of 31 March 2021.

At 3.46am on 31 March 2021, Greater Manchester police officer PC Stuart Oram began pursuit of a car after it went through a red traffic light. During the pursuit, the police officer followed the car the wrong way around a roundabout and pursued it at high speeds of up to 65mph before it collided with a taxi in an intersection moments later.

As the Canary‘s Sophia Purdy-Moore previously wrote:

Ronaldo suffered life-threatening injuries sustained due to a pursuit by GMP. The boy – who was travelling with friends as a backseat passenger – died in hospital on 6 April…

In October 2021, Johnson’s grieving family spoke out about the lack of support provided by the police and the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).

Now, the family’s grief has been compounded by a coroner.

Coroner’s verdict ‘disappointing’

On Tuesday 26 March the inquest concluded that Ron was unlawfully killed by the driver of the car that was pursued by Greater Manchester police.

The inquest heard that, despite knowledge that there was at least one victim, the officer in question did not immediately attend to the victims of the crash. Instead, he pursued the driver of the car on foot for a period of almost three minutes before returning to the scene of the crash.

When managing scenes, College of Policing guidance requires officers to first and foremost prioritise the preservation of life. It is clear that was not done in this case.

In his evidence at the inquest, pursuing officer Oram accepted that he should have requested for emergency services instead of simply stating “serious crash, serious crash”, so that the control room would know to call an ambulance immediately.


The charity and campaign group INQUEST said in a statement:

The family are disappointed that the coroner’s findings made no mention of the police pursuit by Greater Manchester police officer, PC Stuart Oram. In their view this was a central issue in the inquest. The family firmly believe that if it were not for the police pursuit, Ron would still be here today.

The family are campaigning alongside others to call for an end to police pursuits.

Ron was a patient, kind, caring, strong, loving, passionate young boy who was dedicated to caring for the sick, disabled or anyone going through a tough season. After he died, the family learned from his friends that he had been donating packed lunches to those in need.

Ronaldo’s death was not an isolated incident. As Purdy-Moore wrote:

As reported by grassroots cop-watching group Northern Police Monitoring Project (NPMP), Johnson’s untimely death contributed to GMP’s increasing number of deaths from police pursuits. Johnson was one of eight such deaths in Manchester between September 2020 and May 2021.

Across the UK in the same time, there were 39 deaths related to police pursuits.


Ronaldo’s family said:

Losing Ron has devastated his family, friends, loved ones and the community. We are fighting for justice for Ronaldo and will continue to fight for him. We ask you to support the Ronaldo Thierry Johnson Foundation.

We are also working collectively with other families who have lost their loved ones in high-risk, unnecessary police pursuits. We do not want to see another life lost and invite you to support the #EndPolicePursuits campaign.

No GMP failures addressed

Selen Cavcav, senior caseworker at INQUEST, said:

We are disappointed by this inquest conclusion, which does not address any failures by the officer especially in relation to his decision not to provide immediate medical assistance to Ronaldo following the collision. There needs to be a complete review of training and rules that allow the police to continue dangerous pursuits like this that cost lives.

It is a travesty that this family were not granted funding for legal representation when representation for the other state bodies was paid from the public purse.

This inequality of arms is one of the biggest obstacles facing families, who need to fight each step of the way to get basic answers as to how their loved one died and whether things could have been done differently to prevent the tragic outcome.

Justice for Ronaldo Johnson

Emma Gilbert, Solicitor for the family at Imran Khan and Partners, said:

It is astounding that the coroner’s findings of fact made no reference to the police pursuit by Greater Manchester Police immediately preceding the collision that led to Ron’s death. Ron’s death did not happen in a vacuum.

It happened in the context of at least 8 deaths following police pursuits by Greater Manchester Police in 2021/22 alone, according to statistics by the Independent Office for Police Conduct.

If families cannot rely on the inquest process to ask questions about and properly record facts on the death of their loved one – where are they supposed to turn?

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