Five Beds Police officers could face criminal charges over the death of a Luton father, it has been announced.
Leon Briggs, 39, of Ashburnham Road, died on November 4 2013 after being detained by police under the Mental Health Act.
After taking two years and four months to probe the 39-year-old’s death, the Independent Police Complaints Commission announced this morning that it has concluded its investigation and has referred the case to the Crown Prosecution Service.
IPCC Commissioner Mary Cunneen said: “I have reviewed the evidence and report findings, following the completion of the IPCC’s investigation into the events leading up to Leon Briggs’ death.
“I have decided that there is an indication five officers and a member of staff may have committed criminal offences.
“I have therefore referred the case to the Crown Prosecution Service to consider whether there is sufficient evidence and if it would be in the public interest for any offences of unlawful act manslaughter, gross negligence manslaughter, misconduct in public office, and health and safety offences to be charged.”
After being restrained by officers, Mr Briggs was taken to Luton Police Station and placed in a cell.
During his detention the 39-year-old became unresponsive and was taken to hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
News of the father-of-two’s death prompted outcry and a campaign group, Justice 4 Leon, was set up to push for answers.
Mr Briggs’ family have welcomed this morning’s IPCC announcement.
In a statement solicitor Jocelyn Cockburn, who is representing the Briggs family, said: “Leon was a kind and caring father of two. He was also a vulnerable man. He was not under arrest and had committed no offence.
“He was detained under mental health legislation in order to take him to a ‘place of safety’.
“Mr Briggs’ death has left a huge hole in his family but the further wait of nearly two and a half years for the IPCC report has added to their distress.
“At times they have found it difficult to trust the process given the poor track record of previous investigations into black deaths in custody.”
Ms Cockburn added: “Nevertheless they are pleased with the outcome of the IPCC investigation and welcome the IPCC’s finding that there is an indication that four officers and a member of staff may have committed the offences of unlawful act manslaughter and gross negligence manslaughter, and that these offences have been referred to the CPS for a decision on prosecution.
“After such a long wait, the family are now looking forward to the facts of the case being properly scrutinised by the CPS and hope any delay will be minimised.”