Custody death prompts support for ‘Leon’s Law’
In November 2013 following the death of 39 year-old Leon Briggs, after he was held down by police officers in Luton, police watchdog the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) confirmed in a Press Release that they would be treating the police custody death as a criminal investigation. The offences could include negligence or manslaughter, it said. Bedfordshire Police officers attended the junction of Marsh Road and Willow Way after members of the public raised the alarm when they became worried about Leon’s behaviour.
He was restrained by attending officers, detained under Section 136 of the Mental Health Act and taken to Luton police station. He was later transferred to the Luton and Dunstable Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
IPCC Commissioner Mary Cunneen said; “IPCC investigators have obtained and reviewed CCTV from the custody suite at Luton police station and at the junction of Marsh Road and Willow Way.
“A number of independent witnesses have been identified, accounts have been taken and IPCC investigators will continue to interview witnesses over the coming days. Local businesses have also provided CCTV footage to assist our investigation”.
One witness was quoted as saying; “I walked out of the shop and saw two policemen basically restraining this man on the floor. Two officers were pinning him down. I walked back in and just kept hearing screaming.
“He kept shouting, ‘The cuffs are too tight, the cuffs are too tight’, but other than that there was this constant screaming”.
Leon’s family said; “Leon was a loving father, son and brother. He was a kind, loyal, intelligent, caring person who always put his family and others first.
“We have a lot of questions about why he was put through this terrifying ordeal and why he died. We feel he has been let down by the authorities at a time when he should have been provided with specialist care and support”.
In January 2014, following a vigorous campaign by Leon’s family and campaign supporters, Luton councillors unanimously voted to support the use of body worn cameras by police officers.
Speaking at a full council meeting, council leader Hazel Simmons said; “The council supports in principle the immediate introduction for all police constables to wear body worn video equipments which is to be actuated during all arrests, detentions or use of force.
“The council further believes that since police officers cannot predict how any conversation with a member of the public will progress, the equipment should be activated at the commencement of any such conversation.”
The family have pledged to fight on for justice for Leon.
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