Jacob Michael died after he was blasted in the face with pepper spray
An amateur rugby league player collapsed and died after being overpowered with CS spray as he was being arrested by up to eleven police officers.
Jacob Michael, 25, was sprayed in the face inside his home in the Widnes area of Cheshire, but managed to flee officers before being brought down on a verge 30 metres away.
He was taken to a police station where he became unwell and was rushed to hospital by ambulance. He was pronounced dead two hours later.
Police watchdog the Independent Police Complaints Commission confirmed it had begun an investigation into Monday's incident. Tests are due to be carried out into how Michael died.
The dead man - who was known as Jake - had been with his family and is believed to have dialled 999 himself over a threat made to him when police arrived at the semi-detached home at 5pm.
Police said they were arresting him on suspicion of affray but there was a struggle and Michael was blasted in the face with the spray.
Despite him being temporarily blinded by the effects, Michael managed to run out of the house and got to a grass verge before being tackled and brought to the ground by other police officers who were waiting nearby.
Neighbour Ann Blease, 40, said: 'I didn't know Jake that well but he seemed like a good lad, he was pleasant and good with all the kids, very friendly and happy-go-lucky.
The victim's distraught father, also called Jacob Michael, was pictured today at the family home, along with a female relative
'As far as I know he didn't have a job but lived with his parents and was just a really popular guy who knew a lot of people.'
The mother-of-three claimed: 'What the police did was outrageous. He was handcuffed, on the floor with his legs restrained and they didn't even have the decency to pull up his pants.
'They seemed to be kneeing him in the back of the head. I counted 11 cops. They were all sat on him, giving him a kicking and giving him side digs. There was one woman officer, the rest were men, and she was getting her kicks in as well.
'They were chasing him in the street. I saw it because they chased him in front of my house.
Floral tributes have been left at the scene where Michael was arrested
'His mum told me Jake was the one who rang the police himself, saying that someone was threatening him with a gun.
'They started chasing him and hitting him in the back of the legs with batons. They said, "Why don't you stand up and give yourself some dignity," to him. But he couldn't even stand up after they'd hit him with the batons.
'It was so upsetting to see. I couldn't believe the police could do that. It was like something you see on those TV cop shows.
'I went to speak to his mum. She didn't know what happened. She was mortified when they knocked on her door those hours later and told her, "Your son's died".
'They had banged his head on the floor and they were giving him punches. He was already handcuffed and he was restrained when I saw him. I don't know what happened in the house, I just saw when they were on the street.
'He was shouting, "Help me, help me". He wasn't coherent. I don't know why they were bringing him in for affray. It doesn't matter, he didn't deserve that.
'He's never been in trouble before as far as I know.
Sympathy cards were also left at the spot where Michael was apprehended
'The officers threw him into the van by his arms and legs after they beat him. He was shouting for help. We were saying afterwards with the neighbours, nobody saw him get sprayed.
'It's an absolute disgrace. I don't think the police realise how many eye-witnesses there were. We were all shouting, "Get off him".
'We were scared for him. They weren't listening, they didn't seem aware of us, or that there were kids watching.
'It lasted for 15 minutes that I saw, and he was handcuffed the whole time. I don't know why they kept hitting him. All he was doing was shouting for them to get off him.
'His parents are absolutely mortified. Jake was a popular, well liked lad. He was a friend of a friend of mine and was house sitting for her this week. She's absolutely distraught.
'It's a waste of a young life. It's a disgrace.'
Michael's father, a retired businessman who is also called Jacob, emerged from the property with his daughter after police officers spent 30 minutes speaking to them.
The incident occurred after Michael fled his family home in Widnes, Cheshire
Mr Michael Snr said: 'I cannot say anything at this stage because it's far too early to say what happened and we need to know how Jake died.
'All I want to know is what happened to my son and I'm sure everyone feels the same about that. All I can say is that the whole family are devastated at Jake's death and we need time to reflect on it before we say anything about it.'
Floral tributes with messages saying: 'RIP Jacob' were left at the scene.
Appealing for calm Philip Thompson, the Assistant Chief Constable of Cheshire Police, said today: 'I wish to express our sincere condolences to the family and friends of Mr Jacob Michael.
'I believe it is important for the community to know that the detailed post mortem examination found no physical injuries on Jacob that could be attributable to a cause of his death.
'Whilst pepper spray was discharged during the course of his arrest, there is no evidence that the use of pepper spray was the sole factor or indeed a contributory factor to Mr Michael becoming unwell some time after his arrest or as a cause of his death.
'These are amongst the reasons why further extensive tests will be required to establish an exact cause of death. I appeal for people to remain calm to allow the IPCC to conduct their investigation effectively and swiftly before making any judgement on this matter.'
A spokesman for the IPCC confirmed they were investigating the death.
Taser death: Body builder Dale Burns, 27, died after being shot with the 50,000 volt gun
'Investigators have been deployed to Widnes to begin gathering evidence and gain initial accounts from police officers.
A Cheshire Police spokesman confirmed: 'The Independent Police Complainants Commission has been informed and will independently investigate the circumstances surrounding the incident.'
CS Pepper spray is an inflammatory product which causes immediate closing of the eyes, difficulty breathing, runny nose, and coughing.
The duration of its effects depends on the strength of the spray but the average full effect lasts around thirty to forty-five minutes, with diminished effects lasting for hours.
Although considered 'non-lethal', it may be deadly in rare cases, and concerns have been raised about a number of deaths in Britain where being pepper sprayed may have been a contributing factor for those people suffering from asthma.
Last week bodybuilder Dale Burns, 27, became the first person in Britain to have died from a police Taser after officers shot him three times with the powerful 50,000-volt gun after reports of a disturbance at his bedsit in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria.
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