Leon Briggs, a 39-year-old father of two of mixed ethnic background, was a lorry driver and also taught computer skills to older people. His family described him as “a loving brother and father, caring and genuine”.
The inquest jury found that the use of force on Briggs in the street, failure to recognise that he had become a medical emergency, failure to do a proper handover when Briggs arrived at Luton police station, failure to realise that he was not medically fit to be detained, and failure to monitor him appropriately more than minimally contributed to his death. It found that inappropriate weight or pressure was applied to Briggs. He had been held face down in a dangerous position on a concrete surface for more than 13 minutes.
A medical expert told the inquest Leon would have survived, beyond reasonable doubt, if he had been taken to hospital rather than police custody.
Leon died in Luton police custody on the 4th. November 2013. It was not until TWO AND A HALF years later, in March 2016, that his death was finally referred to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP). The DPP sat on the case for TWO years, and in 2018 pronounced that it would take no action. The Bedfordshire police were due to carry out a gross misconduct hearing against the officers involved, which would have then been taken up by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IOCC). However, Bedford police decided they would not investigate their own officers ! and so the IOCC could not proceed.
His mother said, “We think that Leon’s race was a factor in the way he was treated by the police. He was treated as someone who posed a threat rather than someone in need of help.” “To this day, those police officers still have their jobs and livelihoods and no one has been punished for Leon’s death. “There has been no accountability or justice. The Crown Prosecution Service must now reconsider bringing prosecutions.”
As a well known human rights lawyer and as a previous Director of the Crown Prosecution Service, Keir Starmer is in a good position to champion this case so that the family finally receive some justice, and closure. We await his response.