A medic who treated Sheku Bayoh in hospital after his arrest has said the fact he was in handcuffs may have hindered earlier attempts to perform CPR on him.
Dr Gillian Pickering was in charge of the A&E team which tried to resuscitate Mr Bayoh, 31, at Victoria Hospital in Fife on the morning of May 3, 2015.
She said the fact he was wearing wrist restraints could have affected the outcome.
Mr Bayoh had been arrested by police officers on nearby Hayfield Road in Kirkcaldy that morning, who were responding to reports of him in the street with a knife.
An inquiry into the circumstances of Mr Bayoh’s death, and whether race was a factor, is taking place at Capital House in Edinburgh.
Dr Pickering was questioned by the inquiry’s junior counsel, Laura Thomson, on Wednesday.
Describing what she saw when Mr Bayoh arrived at the hospital, the emergency medicine consultant said: “I remember him being a very big man, he had his hands in front of him on his chest, cuffed.”
The inquiry was shown a patient note Dr Pickering had made.
It said the patient had been “found by police with knife, aggressive, attacked police officer”.
It said pepper gas had been used and he had been “hit on back of head. Then was in respiratory arrest.”
Dr Pickering said the Mr Bayoh went into cardiac arrest within a few minutes, as well as being in respiratory arrest.
She told the inquiry she asked the police with him to remove the patient’s handcuffs.
The consultant was asked if she could comment on whether there would have been any difference to the outcome of the CPR performed by police and paramedics if the handcuffs had been removed.
She said: “It could have, the gentleman was a big guy and his arms were big and they were across his chest.
“To do good effective CPR and you need to be able to get good access to the chest.”
She continued: “I can only assume they were giving as good CPR as they could. Whether the cuffs in the way, it would’ve hindered giving really good compressions.”
She and her team tried to resuscitate him, inserting a tube into his throat to help him breathe.
Her statement to the inquiry said the patient’s head was the only site where she saw any injury.
She said this was a “small abrasion, or a graze above his eyebrow.”
She said “drugs were in my head as a potential cause” for his cardiac arrest due to his age and the description of him being “aggressive”.
Naloxone, an anti-opioid drug, was administered but it did not appear to have any effect.
Dr Pickering said she was not told about Mr Bayoh being pinned to the ground during his arrest.
Asked how this information would have helped her, she said: “It’s not going to change what I would do, but it would give me an idea of what has led up to it.”
The inquiry was told the medics shocked Mr Bayoh to try and resuscitate him, but it had no effect.
The team involved in his emergency care pronounced death at 9.04am.
Claire Mitchell QC, representing the Bayoh family, said the inquiry may hear later that paramedics could not apply an IV line because Mr Bayoh was in handcuffs.
She asked about the effect of delays in giving certain drugs, Dr Pickering responded: “It means it makes it harder to get the heart to restart.”
Earlier, an officer told the inquiry he struck Mr Bayoh in the head with his baton after he saw the 31-year-old punch a female officer in the back of the head, causing her to fall onto the ground before “stomping on her back”.
The inquiry, before Lord Bracadale, continues.