The family of a man who died after being arrested say they are “disappointed” that police have emerged blameless after an inquest.
Anthony Kostiw, 35, was released after arrest and left at Milton Keynes Coachway by two officers in the early hours of a frosty January morning.
The dad-of-three’s body was found face down in a ditch there two days later.
His family say he was drunk and had no money for fares and no phone. They have questioned why police did not drop him at his Heelands home or at the police station.
But in a four day inquest, a jury at Milton Keynes Coroners’ Court ruled police had carried out an “adequate” risk assessment.
One of the arresting officers, PC Johan Stevens, said there were no concerns that Mr Kostiw could not look after himself, and he felt the Coachway was an appropriate place to leave him.
The jury agreed, saying: “It offered shelter, food, access to phones, toilets, transport options and was safe to exit by foot.”
Anthony’s partner of 17 years, Carol Attridge, had reported him missing when he failed to return to his Heelands home.
“I was worried sick. It was so out of character for him. Family and friends formed search parties and scoured the Coachway area looking for him,” said Carol, who set up a Justice For Anthony Kostiw group.
On January 5, Carol was out searching when she spotted police cordoning off an area around a stream – less than 100 metres from where police left him.
“My heart sank. I just knew they had found him and that he wasn’t alive,” she said.
The inquest heard that police have now changed their policy on risk assessments.
After the inquest, Carol said: “In my opinion police were fully aware he was very intoxicated as both officers were heard saying “you’re hammered” on the body-cam footage. They said in a statement that he was incredibly intoxicated.”
Body-cam footage shown at the inquest also showed Anthony stumbling to the floor.
The jury concluded he died by misadventure.
Carol had previously reported the arresting officer to the police complaints body IOPC. A disciplinary hearing last November cleared them both of gross misconduct.
She said: “We have fought hard every day for Anthony and we will continue.”