Police had to decide if Hillsborough casualties had died

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Police officers on duty at the Hillsborough disaster initially had to decide whether or not crushed supporters were dead, the new inquests into the tragedy heard today.

Anthony Humphries, a former South Yorkshire Police inspector, said before medics got involved police officers were deciding who was dead and who was alive.

He was giving evidence at the fresh inquests into the deaths of the 96 Liverpool FC fans who died in the 1989 tragedy.

In his evidence to the jury Mr Humphries recalled the moment he and another officer agreed a youth had died.

He said he brought the youth out of the ground through the tunnel and thought he had probably died but attempted resuscitation because of a ‘rumour going around that someone had brought someone round’.

Mr Humphries said after attempting resuscitation he and the officer he was with decided the youth had died.

He said he thought the youth had been left by a wall.

He told the jury: “I remember - silly thing now - but I covered his face with his T shirt.”

Mr Humphries said the youth was left on his back and not in the recovery position.

Sean Horstead, representing ten of the victims’ families, asked Mr Humphries how long it was before a doctor arrived.

Mr Humphries said at some stage he shouted on the radio for a doctor.

Mr Horstead asked: “Because up until that point it was police officers who were making decisions about whether someone was dead or whether someone was alive?”

Mr Humphries replied: “Yes.”

Next Mr Horstead asked if any of the people who were thought to be dead had been left in the recovery position.

Mr Humphries said he couldn’t remember.

Mr Horstead then asked if Mr Humphries would accept that some of the people he thought had died may have been capable of being revived.

Mr Humphries told the court he made a judgement about the youth he had treated, and other officers made their own judgements.

He said: “In relation to mine, in all honesty, I have to believe he died that day.”

Then Mr Horstead asked if it would have been better to leave the casualties in the recovery position.

Mr Humphries said he wouldn’t disagree with that.

The hearing continues.